Sara Nelson, International President of the Flight Attendant Association says that no, we have never seen anything like it. And it does so during a public hearing with insiders. They add hostesses and stewards of European companies contacted the last three days from Courier service that if the trend does not change we risk having to manage passengers who not only do not follow the health rules, but who are also drunk or, as happens on various Mediterranean routes, embark under the influence of drugs. In what could be the first summer almost normal at the time of Covid, the gradual return to travel – even for pleasure – is going hand in hand with the increase in disputes on board with those who refuse to wear the protective mask or to wear it correctly by covering their nose and mouth. The story of the problematic traveler on the Ryanair flight Ibiza-Bergamo, says the flight crew, just the umpteenth case in recent weeks.
The unclear rules
The concern is not only because the tensions in flight you never know how they can evolve. But also because we come from months of restrictions and when they get on board we notice customers stressed by the lengthening of the procedures that lead from the terminal to the aircraft and due to the increase in travel requirements, starting from the certificate of negativity to the coronavirus, tell those who work in especially low cost airlines. And in July and August, where we expect airplanes between 90 and 100% full, the opportunities for contact multiply. Italy, and Europe, are not like the United States where there is a more rigid approach towards the so-called “unruly passengers”, they continue by the carriers without hiding that they would prefer not to bring this issue to the fore. Often the people we have denounced get away with a lecture from the judge or the police, they admit.
The US example
In the United States, almost zero tolerance. In the first five months of this year, the FAA – the US federal aviation body – heavily sanctioned eleven passengers reported by the companies as problematic because they refused to wear a mask or cover their nose and mouth properly for a total of fines of 171,500 dollars, that is about 140 thousand euros, according to the data collected by Courier service. The most affected was a traveler who has to pay $ 32,750 for refusing to follow the health rules on the jetBlue flight from the Dominican Republic to New York on February 7th. Since January 1, the FAA estimates that it has received about 2,600 reports of unruly passengers, of which almost 2,000 concern the lack of masks. Also for this reason – as the New York Times — two companies, American Airlines and the low-cost Southwest, have decided to delay the return of alcohol to be served on board.
There is no up-to-date accident database in Europe related to non-compliance with health rules. The Courier service has contacted the main companies active these weeks in Italy. And in general the approach is to resize, also to avoid emulation, especially given the impact on social networks, as explained by a head of operations who also receives the report on the incidents in the flights of the day before. Of course, for now this is not an alarming phenomenon: The numbers are still limited, but we must monitor and intervene because they are uphill, continues the manager. From Alitalia they let it be known that they have not noticed an increase in tension on board linked to the non-use of masks, but only reminders to wear them in the most appropriate way, ie by covering the nose and mouth. The same also on Lufthansa flights. Since the introduction of the obligation, our staff have been asked to pay close attention, explains a spokesperson. What if someone doesn’t respect the rule? You remind him of it or try to convince him with good arguments, he adds diplomatically.
For now, the Air France-KLM group does not see a worrying trend, while Ryanair – protagonist in spite of itself in the case of the turbulent traveler on the flight from Ibiza to Bergamo last May 26 – merely explains that the cabin crew does an exceptional job to guarantee and ensure that everyone abides by the required rules. No response arrived – at least at the time of publication of the article – from easyJet and Volotea, while a spokesperson for Wizz Air confirms that yes, there are some passengers scolded because they refused to wear the mask properly or to wear it, but there are not many, he says. At least for now.
June 2, 2021 (change June 2, 2021 | 07:17)
© REPRODUCTION RESERVED