Passenger Rage Threatens Airline Workers' Safety

Calling for zero tolerance of passenger rage, airline worker\r\nunions are joining together to launch a campaign against disruptive\r\npassengers.

Pushing, shoving, choking and punching: these are just a few of the reasons why being an airline worker can be a dangerous job.

Calling for zero tolerance of passenger rage, airline worker unions are joining together to launch a campaign against disruptive passengers.

Friday marked the second anniversary of the campaign in which flight attendants and ground crews held a "day of action" against abuse of airline employees.

"We''re talking about more than just rude behavior," said Tom Buffenbarger, president of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, which represents customer service employees and ticket agents. "Airport employees are routinely threatened by passengers who get away with everything short of murder."

Unions believe that aviation employers also must act to end disruptive passenger behavior.

"It only takes one incident to create an air disaster," said Patricia Friend, president of the Association of Flight attendants.

Flight attendants were expected to issue an air rage report card, giving failing grades to airlines, the Justice Department and the Federal Aviation Administration.

Those agencies have failed to force airlines to report all air rage incidents and rarely enforce laws against disruptive passengers, according to Friend.

Research from the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF), an umbrella organization for transportation workers worldwide, shows only half of airlines have policies to tackle the growing problem of air rage.

ITF said that despite the fact that progress has been made in some countries to address the problem, an international law is necessary.

"It''s still a lottery," said Shane Enright, secretary of the ITF Civil Aviation Section. "Flying on too many airlines and to too many countries you''re still unprotected. Without proper rules this situation will never change."

Unions blame rising tensions among passengers on overbooking, crowded planes and frequent delays.

by Virginia Sutcliffe

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