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United Airlines Flight Attendants Say They Are ‘Last Line of Defense in the Sky’ After Alleged Assault On New Hire Crew Member

United Airlines Flight Attendants Say They Are ‘Last Line of Defense in the Sky’ After Alleged Assault On New Hire Crew Member

Flight attendants at United Airlines say they are the “last line of defense in the sky” after a new hire crew member who has only recently started flying was allegedly attacked by a passenger who had fashioned a metal spoon into a homemade shank.

The Association of Flight Attendants (AFA-CWA) said on Tuesday that serious injuries were averted as a result of the quick action of the aircrew and passengers who tackled Francisco Severo Torres, 33, to the ground after he allegedly tried to stab a flight attendant in the neck.

The flight attendant is said to be a new hire crew member who only recently completed training and has been flying just a short time.

“Regardless of whether we started our careers years ago or within the past month, we share a common mission,” the AFA told its members following Sunday’s terrifying incident.

“We are aviation’s first responders and the final line of defense in the sky.  While there is no question we are the welcoming face of our respective airlines, we are ultimately there to safeguard the passengers in our care and to protect the aircraft from any threat with which we may be faced in the course of our workday.”

Torres has been charged with interference and attempted interference of crew members, as well as using a dangerous weapon on United Airlines flight UA2609 between Los Angeles and Boston on Sunday.

Alarming cellphone video captured by one of the passengers on the flight seemingly shows Torres threatening the crew before lunging towards a flight attendant. Passengers and crew quickly intervened to restrain Torres, and he was taken into custody on arrival in Boston a short time later.

The union has commended the flight attendants involved in the incident, saying that while “their example demonstrates our charge to care for everyone on the flight”, the incident also highlights the urgency for a national no-fly list for unruly passengers.

The idea of a centralised register of unruly passengers has also been supported by the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) which represents crew members at American Airlines.

The register would effectively mean that a ban on one airline for disruptive behavior would result in a ban on all airlines. The idea has also been supported by lawmakers, but there is no evidence to suggest that if the register was already in existence, it would have prevented Torres’ alleged behavior aboard United flight UA2609.

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