Aircraft Accidents and Flight Attendant Respect

I believe – and this is me – but a job that is without a doubt largely disrespected … and underappreciated, is the flight attendant (FA). Quite frankly I don’t have the patience necessary to not haul back and deck some of the most obstinate idiots I’ve had the displeasure to be locked in a long aluminum tube and fly with.
But that’s me.
I’ve had the chance to meet some of the most accommodating, safety minded folks that fly for all different airlines. As an FAA inspector, I constantly spoke and laughed with these safety officials of the airlines, getting to know them and their trials before enrouting home from an inspection. They are professionals, kid yourself not.
These professionals are more than drink servers and pillow finders. They are trained, in the strictest use of the word, to guarantee everybody’s safety on the aircraft. They perform unselfishly to put their passengers first in emergency and do their best to make the flight as pleasurable as possible. They are not responsible for the size of seats or how many peanuts a passenger is allowed. They are there for cabin safety … PERIOD!
On one trip, a passenger thought it funny to hide his cell phone from the flight attendant, hiding it between his legs during the FA’s safety check, as she walked up and down the aisle. Although not enrouting, I was on government business. I counted how many time this insolent fool hid his phone, continuing the call as soon as the flight attendant passed by. I held my tongue. As soon as the aircraft broke free from the gate, the aircraft was now an active flight. I held my credentials over the seat and told the man that this was now an active flight and in my jurisdiction; I reminded him that the flight attendant had informed everyone that the cell phones were to be turned off for safety reasons and that he was violating the Federal Regulations, and that his actions were punishable by a minimum of a five thousand dollar fine as per FAA Order 2150.3.
He turned off the phone.
The cabin, six rows in either direction, erupted into applause; the only reason it was not a standing ovation was that all the passengers were told to remain buckled in during taxi, and after all, there was an FAA inspector onboard.
Now let me break that down for the average passenger just what the violation means: Order 2150.3B is the FAA Compliance and Enforcement Program; it is the document FAA inspectors use to determine the procedures for and the civil penalty resulting from violations under Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations. It gives the FAA inspector the legal power – supported by the US Congress – to level monetary or certificate violations against anyone threatening the safety of air commerce, even if they do not have an FAA-issued certificate. So, let’s see what the cell phone prankster was liable for (and each violation would be easy to defend on the part of the inspector – myself). These penalties can be checked on pages B-28 and B-29 of the Order.
1 – B-3-p (1) Interference with a crew member 14 CFR 121.580 (which includes disobeying or refusing to follow the directions of a flight attendant): civil penalty of $5000, plus,
2 – B-3-p (6) Acts in a manner that poses imminent threat to safety of aircraft and other individuals on aircraft (Cell phones are ordered to be turned off because of threat to the avionics of aircraft) under 49 U.S.C. § 46318: civil penalty of $27,500, plus,
3 – B-3-q (6) Operating a portable electronic device: civil penalty of $5000.
That’s a total of $38,500 in penalties.
If the passenger is unruly or threatening, more civil penalties can be tagged on; you know who I’m talking about, all those ‘brave’ individuals who feel empowered to intimidate a flight and/or cabin crewmember, this one’s for you:
B-3-p (4) Threatening to physically assault flight or cabin crewmember under 49 U.S.C. § 46318: civil penalty of $5000, and,
B-3-p (2) Physical assault of a flight or cabin crewmember under 49 U.S.C. § 46318: civil penalty of $8000.
So, the next time you see someone feeling ‘brave’, understand that for that brief exhibition of bravado – or stupidity – the price tag can be upwards of $40,000. And the lesson would be well learned.
Flight Attendants are there for flight safety; let’s not forget that people.

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