North Texas flight attendants take self-defense class as sky rage incidents continue

Some airline workers are learning how to defend themselves and others in the wake of fights and unruly behavior between passengers and staff.

The four-hour class has been around since 2005, but has gained in popularity recently due to the rise in bad behavior taking place on-board some flights.

Flight attendants learn from the Federal Air Marshal Service how to diffuse a tense situation and ultimately defend themselves, if need be.

At this class in Coppell on Tuesday, 16 flight attendants learned basic techniques along with how to identify various forms of identifying threats 

Byron Irby is the Federal Air Marshal Special Agent in Charge of the Dallas region. Since 2018, Irby says approximately 4,000 Southwest and American Airlines flight attendants have taken the self-defense class. He says classes have been filling up lately.

"People are just frustrated because they've been pent up for so long they take those frustrations out on the wrong people," Irby said.

Scott Prasse and Lucinda Cunningham, both Southwest Airlines flight attendants, say the pandemic and on-going mask mandate is triggering sky rage.

"It’s caused a lot of stress. I try to be understanding and give grace, but I'm always on high alert for stuff that is out of the norm," Cunningham said.

This class giving them the skills the hope they never have to use.

"I want the extra training because of all of the violence. I want to be prepared to protect myself and my fellow flight attendants in the air. Make sure we have safe travel for our passengers," Prasse.

Passengers who either assault or threaten to assault an airline crewmember could face prison time and a fine of up to $35,000.


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