The TWU Responds to the IFC Assault on Flight #261

On September 22, IFCs on JetBlue Flight 261 from BOS to SJU had to forcibly restrain a passenger who attempted to storm the flight deck. Although the exact details have not been divulged to the Union, we have reports that an IFC was choked with his own tie and kicked in the chest as he held the passenger back when the pilot exited the cockpit. When the passenger broke loose from flex cuffs, it took six to seven flight crew members to physically restrain him using seat belt extensions and an IFCs tie. The passenger was arrested in San Juan and is now facing federal charges.

The Transport Workers Union of America (TWU) commends the Inflight Crewmembers of Flight 261 for their brave actions defending the flight deck and protecting the passengers and aircraft. The TWU has reached out to the IFCs, but we have not been given access to speak with them. They have reportedly been questioned by the FBI, and we’ve heard that most of the working crew operated their scheduled flight back to BOS. It is important to know that with a contract in place, the IFCs would have had Union representation to guide them in speaking with the FBI and to ensure they were properly supported after the incident. The TWU believes that no one should be allowed to operate a flight after a Level 4 disturbance, and we are dismayed that JetBlue Leadership allowed this.

The TWU is actively working to protect IFCs against unruly passengers assaults. This latest incident comes on the heels of the twentieth anniversary of 9/11 and proves that flight safety is an issue that remains paramount. Last week, the twenty-sixth TWU Constitutional Convention unanimously passed a resolution condemning physical assaults and mistreatment of Flight Attendants and Customer Service Agents, including, but not limited to, commitments to:

  • Seeking federal legislation to include an industry wide permanent no fly list for passengers convicted of assaulting airline employees
  • Demanding that the Department of Justice, airlines, and airports to pursue the filing criminal charges when there is any incident of passenger misconduct or assault aboard commercial airline
  • An expansion of the Federal Air Marshall program
  • Mandatory announcements to inform passengers that misconduct or assault of an airline employee will result in criminal prosecution and fines

In addition, the TWU has launched an “Assault Won’t Fly” campaign which will advocate for these changes and others to protect all Flight Attendants. We will be providing further information on this important campaign and how you can be involved in the very near future.

One of the primary reasons workers vote for a union is to ensure a safe and healthy workplace, which is why you need the protection of a legal and binding contract. The TWU is fighting hard against health and safety threats, including those caused by company policies and passenger misconduct. Please continue to fly safely, and if you have any questions or concerns, please contact your Union.

In unity,
John Samuelsen
International President
Transport Workers Union of America, AFL-CIO