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NEW YORK — The bad behaviour in America’s skies shows no signs of letting up.rr
In response, the Federal Aviation Administration on Thursday (Aug 19) proposed more than US$530,000 in fines against 34 “unruly” passengers accused of striking flight attendants, refusing to wear masks and lying in the aisles, among other offenses. A few hours later, American Airlines extended a ban on alcohol sales on planes until Jan 18, 2022.rr
These moves coincided with wider attention to a United Airlines memo that flight attendants denounced as a publicity stunt. In it, United Airlines updated attendants about hiring, thanked them for being so friendly and then issued an odd plea.rr
“Please remember that there are designated items onboard that may be used in difficult situations and alternative measures such as tape should never be used,” Mr John Slater, United’s senior vice president of in-flight services, wrote.rr
That seemed like a reference to a widely covered incident on Frontier Airlines last month in which crew members taped an aggressive, inebriated passenger to his chair.rr
The memo, first sent to airline employees on Friday, drew wider attention and mockery online in the last 24 hours and — coinciding with the FAA and American Airlines actions — underscored just how badly some passengers have been behaving during the pandemic.rr
“We are doing all we can to help create a safe environment for our crew and customers onboard our aircraft,” American said in a memo to flight attendants about the three-month extension of the alcohol ban.rr
On social media, many made light of the United reminder about restraining passengers, sharing the news with jokes about duct tape, which has — on previous high-profile occasions — been called the perfect tool “for lazy guys that don’t know how to fix things the right way".rr
Ms Taylor Garland, as spokeswoman for the Association of Flight Attendants, did not disagree that duct tape was inherently funny.rr
But the jokes — and much of the coverage about the United Airlines memo — are off-base, she said, for multiple reasons. First of all, no one used duct tape, she said, including the crew members on the Frontier flight.rr rr
“It’s restraint tape,” she said. Restraint tape is not silver, she added.rr
United Airlines removed restraint tape from its cabins in 2014, she said, so the reminder made no sense. She suspects the memo was leaked in a PR move.rr
Ms Sara Nelson, the president of the Association of Flight Attendants, agreed on Twitter, calling the memo a “sick marketing stunt” and asking the airline to apologise to flight attendants.rr
The memo is “offensive”, Ms.Garland said. “They are not offering flight attendants real tools to deal with an unprecedented rise in unruly passengers.”rr
United, which shared the memo after a request from The New York Times, declined to discuss when the airline banned tape altogether or what flight attendants should do to control disruptive passengers.