Airline passengers have been dragged off planes and bloodied. And while airlines are now more reluctant to call police to
have customers beaten have passengers removed from aircraft as a first line of defense, there’s been no regulatory or legal protections added.
There was David Dao. There was the senior citizen shoved to the ground by a United agent in Houston. He didn’t go public right away because the airline threatened to take away all his miles if he did. And don’t forget the harm done to animals< too.
However airline employees unions have been lobbying for “strengthening protections for airline passenger service agents from passenger assaults.” There is, apparently, a silent epidemic of airline employees being bloodied by passengers. And they want the body count to stop growing.
What are these dangerous assaults? According to Richard Honeycutt who chairs the Communications Workers of America’s Passenger Service Airline Council they are physical and verbal assaults.
And the CWA is “applaud[ing].. inclusion of passenger service agent assault language in [the] FAA Reauthorization Bill.”
Section 539 of the draft bill specifically provides for “reporting protocols” for employees who are victims of verbal assault, ensuring passengers aren’t permitted “to move through airport security or board an aircraft” if they are accused of verbal (or physical) assault until law enforcement “assess[es] the incident.” Under the proposed law if you say something that an airline employee finds offensive, there will be legal procedures in place to detain you and involve law enforcement.
It seems to me that airlines ought to refuse to transport customers who act uncivilly towards employees, and – union rules notwithstanding – should fire employees who act uncivilly towards customers. It also seems that law enforcement should be a last resort, not a first resort.