Cabin crew will get more rest between shifts, under new FAA requirements concerning crew readiness.

Previously, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) required that flight attendants, who perform many of the safety-related duties of a flight, to get at least 9 off-duty hours between shifts, which can be up to 14 hours long. In a Tuesday announcement, that requirement has become 10 hours rest, to contribute to better safety practices.

The legwork behind the change began in 2018, when Congress directed the FAA to make safety-oriented changes. The Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) has been backing this directive for years, and has been frustrated that it took the FAA four years to make the change they were ordered to make.

“Having rested and alert flight attendants who are prepared to carry out their responsibilities, including cabin safety and other duties, is critical to this goal.” said a statement from Airlines for America, a trade group representing Delta, Alaska, Southwest, and several others of the largest American airlines.

Cabin crew union officials have also pointed at the recent rise in violent and potentially violent incidents in the air involving unruly passengers. While those incidents have tapered down as mask requirements eased, they have not, and may never, return to pre-pandemic lows. Officials point to this as an additional reason cabin crew needs more rest, and loopholes that allow airlines to get more hours of their staff need to be closed.

This is a small handful of people making it hell for flight attendants on the front lines,” said Sara Nelson, president of the AFA.

Cabin crew members work shifts of up to 14 hours at a time, much of it on their feet, in a crowded, enclosed, and stressful environment. They have no way of escaping an obnoxious customer, and limited options for securing a dangerous situation. An hour of additional rest is not a lot, but it could make a world of difference in outcome.

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