The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) confirmed on Tuesday that it was finally implementing a 2018 law that guarantees flight attendants a minimum 10-hour rest period between duty days. Flight attendants said the measure would make flying “safer” for around 100,000 crew members and the millions of passengers under their care.
The final rulemaking from the FAA brings to an end a 28-year battle by flight attendants to guarantee longer rest periods, matching the minimum length of rest periods that pilots have enjoyed since 2014.
Until now, flight attendants would normally get nine hours of rest between duty days but in certain circumstances, this rest period could be reduced to just eight hours. Union leaders warned safety was being jeopardised because flight attendants were flying fatigued.
But under the new rules, flight attendants will have at least 10 hours of rest between duty days which can’t be reduced for any reason. The rulemaking covers flight attendants who have been scheduled to work a 14-hour duty day or less (different rest rules cover flight attendants who have worked longer duties).
“President Biden delivered today,” said Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA-CWA).
“President Biden promised to make this a top priority to correct this and today under the leadership of Secretary Buttigieg and Acting FAA Administrator Nolen the rule for 10 hours irreducible rest for Flight Attendants is final,” Nelson continued.
Although the law was passed back in October 2018 and was meant to be implemented within 30 days, the Trump administration allegedly put the measure on the backburner and “on a regulatory road to kill it”.
The previous administration initially blamed the delay on a massive backlog facing the FAA caused by a partial government shutdown and then the worldwide grounding of the Boeing 737MAX.
Then came the COVID-19 pandemic.
Delta Air LInes was also accused of lobbying the government to delay implementing the rules, although the Atlanta-based carrier promised to observe the spirit of the 10-rest rule even before it was made into law.
Other airlines claimed the new rules will cost them millions of dollars over the next few years. The administration is giving them just 90 days to reschedule trips to guarantee flight attendants 10 hours rest.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.