The FAA wants to give flight attendants mandatory 10 hours of rest between shifts amid nationwide burnout and staffing challenges

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The FAA wants to give flight attendants mandatory 10 hours of rest between shifts amid nationwide burnout and staffing challenges
A Spirit Airlines flight attendant speaks to a passenger. Thomas Pallini/Insider
  • The FAA proposed on Thursday to increase rest time for flight attendants to 10 hours from 9.
  • Congress had mandated the change, but the federal agency missed a November 2018 deadline to enact it.

The Federal Aviation Administration wants to give flight attendants an extra hour of rest between shifts.

The FAA is proposing 10-hour breaks for flight attendants. These breaks would be mandatory and would provide flight attendants time to rest between shifts which can be as long as 14 hours a day. Airlines currently must give flight attendants at least nine hour of rest, but the number can be reduced to eight under some circumstances.

Congress had ordered the increased rest time back in October 2018, but the FAA missed a November 2018 deadline to adopt the change due to delays under the Trump administration, according to Bloomberg.

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The proposed change comes during a surge of passenger violence onboard aircrafts. The FAA received a record 4,000 reports of passenger violence between January and September 2021. Most reports related to a passenger's refusal to comply with federal mask mandates, and many others involved intoxicated passengers.

"Flight Attendant fatigue is real," Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA union, said in a statement to Insider. "COVID has only exacerbated the safety gap with long duty days, short nights, and combative conditions on planes."

Many flight attendants told Insider they've felt burned out and contemplated quitting due unruly passengers.

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The change may help companies attract or keep staff amid the nationwide labor shortage. Some airlines, including American Airlines, Spirit, and Delta, cancelled flights this summer because of unavailable flight crews. The Dallas Morning News reported Southwest is ramping up hiring at key airports.

Airlines for America, a trade group representing most major US carriers, said adding an hour of rest could cost airlines $786 million over 10 years and lost income for flight attendants, according to the FAA.

"The Biden-Harris Administration is proud to advance policies that protect and empower workers. This proposal will contribute to a safer, healthier workplace for flight attendants," Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg said in a statement.

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Airlines for America was not immediately available for additional comment.

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