Flight Attendant Self-Defense

BOSTON — The Transportation Security Administration is giving us rare access to see the unusual steps that flight attendants are taking to keep flight crewmembers safe.  It comes after a rise in incident on board airplanes.

News Center 7′s Washington, D.C. Bureau traveled to the training facility near Boston’s airport.  It’s one of many facilities where hundreds of flight crew members are learning self-defense.

At first glance, it all looks and sounds very real.  In the scenario, a flight attendant is fighting back against an unruly passenger.  It’s one of several training scenarios that the department of homeland security opened up for our cameras.

From on board this training aircraft to learning defensive tactics on dummies or in the classroom hearing and seeing the real-life horror stories of what can happen.

Every week, it seems, there’s a new video from on board an airliner where a passenger’s frustration takes over.

earlier this year -- one passenger, flying from Boston to Orlando, was fined 29-thousand dollars after refusing to comply with the mask mandate… and accused of shouting obscenities at the flight crew… even punching a passenger.

Stephanie Garrett is a flight attendant, who started nine years ago, at a time when, she says, people enjoyed traveling and were much friendlier. “I worry about my safety quite a bit,” say Garrett.  “I’m watching, looking, making sure that things don’t escalate to a point where I feel that I am completely helpless,” she said.

TSA officials say the training is invaluable.  “they’re not really learning how to attack someone,” says Dan Velez, with the TSA. “They’re learning basically how to deescalate a situation and if need be, protect themselves and the passengers,” he said.

The f-a-a gave us their latest data from early November, which shows more than 5,000 incidents of unruly passengers.

Most of them were due to people fighting mask mandates.

But of the thousands of incidents, only 227-cases have resulted in law enforcement action including 37 involving the FBI.

Blight attendant Caroline Chambers signed up for the training after having a close call on a flight herself with passengers making threats.

It didn’t result in violence but did change how she works.  “The moment we’re on the train on the bus to work walking through TSA, walking through the airport, we’re screening everybody. We are looking for people who could help us in an emergency,” said Chambers.

The TSA tells us this training actually started years ago but was put on hold because of the pandemic.

Now that more people are traveling, with new restrictions, these crew members say it’s invaluable.

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