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Tuesday, July 19, 2016
My name is Allie Malis. I am a DCA-based flight attendant and Washington area native. I am filling in for Julie Frederick as our Interim Government Affairs Representative while she concentrates her efforts on the Hillary Clinton campaign.
I was raised in Arlington, Virginia where I continue to live today. As a graduate of the University of Virginia, much of my coursework had the nation’s capital as a living backdrop. My family has a strong personal history of participation and support for the organized labor movement going back to my grandfather who organized in the steel mills in the late 1930s. I am proud to continue in that tradition.
This is going to be a critical year for the labor movement and for APFA. “Elections Matter!” will be a theme. We want to ensure that all our brothers and sisters understand what is at stake by identifying important issues and by supporting candidates who we know will fight for us. We have substantial numbers of members in critical swing states so APFA members can make a difference. I cannot overemphasize the importance of this election as it will affect all three branches of government.
Last week APFA President Bob Ross spent a few days on Capitol Hill meeting with targeted legislators to promote our flight attendants and our concerns. He emphasized our role as first responders and safety professionals. He also addressed our continuing battle with fatigue, exacerbated by the optimizer scheduling program. As flight attendant issues arise in Washington, we will be sure to make our concerns heard.
In the meantime, here are some updates on current legislative affairs affecting our workgroup:
This week Congress passed the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act of 2016. The legislation extends the FAA’s programs and the taxes that fund those programs through September 30, 2017 at their current funding levels.
The extension avoids the contentious issue of privatization of the air traffic control system.
The Reauthorization Act did not pass the “Fight for Ten” anti-fatigue amendment put forward by AFA. While our analysis showed that the language would have had little if any impact on our lives, APFA supported the language with the belief that any step forward was positive.
The Coalition of Flight Attendants will meet in Dallas this fall and APFA will raise this issue again in hopes of developing language that will truly address fatigue for our members. APFA believes that the growing number of long haul flights and the use of the optimizer scheduling program are putting our safety in increasing jeopardy.
For Flight Attendants:
- Requires air carriers to revise flight attendant requalification training so that flight attendants are trained in identifying and reporting potential human trafficking victims to appropriate governmental personnel or law enforcement officers. Former AA flight attendant Nancy Rivard and her organization Airline Ambassadors has been at the forefront of this issue so congratulations are in order to Nancy and her volunteers.
- Requires the Secretary of Transportation to consider policy directing air carriers to better accommodate families flying together by assigning adjacent seats for passengers traveling with children younger than 13, no matter when they purchase their ticket. APFA President Bob Ross will be writing to both DOT Secretary Foxx and FAA Administrator Huerta supporting this provision but insisting that the implementation guidelines are clear and give flight attendants the authority to implement the new rules.
Additional Matters of Interest:
- Requires an airline to promptly refund passenger baggage fees if the bags are lost or delayed for an extended period after the passenger’s arrival.
- Takes steps to improve air travel for individuals with disabilities by requiring a review of training and best practices by airports and airlines and by requiring the DOT to address several issues of concern to the disabled community.
- Following long tarmac delays, planes required to return to a “suitable disembarkation point” to allow passengers who wish to return to the terminal to do so within three hours for domestic and four hours for international flights after closing the aircraft door. Regulations are to be issued within 90 days of the legislation’s enactment.
- Requires the FAA to consider the recommendations of the Pilot Fitness Aviation Rulemaking Committee in determining whether to implement additional screening for mental health conditions as part of a comprehensive medical certification process for pilots.
- Requires the FAA to provide quarterly updates to Congress regarding the number of incidents involving a laser beam pointer being aimed at or in the flight path of an aircraft.
- Requires the FAA to develop a framework to reduce aviation cybersecurity risks and prevent the potential hacking of airplane computer systems.
- Streamlines and improves the air traffic controller hiring process and ensures the FAA can better address controller shortages with experienced candidates.
- Includes provisions to deploy technology that will work to keep drones out of the path of airliners.
- Authorizes expanded research opportunities and operations that will further the integration of drones into our nation’s airspace.
On Our Radar:
- Flight attendant fatigue
- Seat size (SEAT Act)
- Cabin air temperatures
- Cabin air quality
- Norwegian Air International
- Open and Fair Skies
- Elections Matter—register to vote!
We will continue to make your voice heard here in Washington.
APFA Interim National Government Affairs Representative