FAA announces rule allowing more rest for flight attendants

(CNN) – Federal aviation officials announced Tuesday that flight attendants will soon have more mandatory rest time between flights.

Current FAA rules say that, in most cases, an airline must provide a flight attendant with a nine-hour rest period after being on duty for 14 hours or less.

The new rule increases the rest period to 10 hours between shifts.

“Flight attendants, like all essential transportation workers, work hard every day to keep the traveling public safe, and we owe them our full support,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a communicated “This new rule will make it easier for flight attendants to do their jobs, which in turn will keep us safe in the air.”

Flight crew unions have fought hard for the change, saying flight attendants are extremely tired and overworked after shifts of up to 14 hours.

The Federal Aviation Administration notified airlines last week of upcoming rule changes, a source familiar with the policy said Monday.

The FAA had two public comment periods, in 2019 and 2021, on the proposed regulatory change. The agency said it reviewed more than 1,000 comments.

The change was first approved by Congress in 2018, but was not implemented by the Trump administration.

Last week, House Transportation Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Oregon) made it a priority to see the rules completed before his upcoming retirement.

The final rule will take effect 30 days after it is published in the Federal Register.

Difficult time for flight attendants

“It’s about time! As aviation’s first responders and last line of defense, it’s critical that we are well rested and ready to perform our duties,” said Sara Nelson, president of the Air Force Attendants Association vol-CWA, in a statement.

“Covid has only exacerbated the safety gap with long duty days, short nights and combative conditions on planes,” Nelson said.

With demand increasing as pandemic restrictions eased, 2022 has been tough for flight attendants.

Allie Malis, who is also the government affairs representative for the Professional Flight Attendants Association, a union that represents American Airlines flight crew, told CNN Travel last summer about “uncomfortable” situations in that the crew, delayed on incoming flights, find themselves rushing through the airport to their next job.

Flight attendants say situations like these, along with unpredictable schedules, wreak havoc on the mental and physical well-being of the crew.

It’s not just in the United States where flight attendants say they’re being ripped off.

“Illness levels have gone through the roof, fatigue levels have gone through the roof, not because [flight attendants are] rejecting or protesting in any way. It’s just that they can’t cope, they just can’t cope with the constant change,” says British flight attendant Kris Major.

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