(NewsNation Now) — The recent rise in violence toward flight attendants, more than 800 cases so far this year, whether sparked by mask mandates, long wait times or other causes, has flight crew paying new attention to self-defense classes specifically tailored to the onboard environment.
The training is designed to teach flight attendants how to defend themselves against violent passengers, disarm them and, if necessary, restrain them until outside help can be summoned.
Just a decade or two ago, the idea of someone attacking a flight attendant was utter anathema to most people. However, with so many other stressors piling up on daily life and people trying to self-medicate with alcohol before boarding a plane, the friendly skies have become on occasion dangerous for those who make a living in the sky.
The classes, offered by the TSA and air marshals, teach footwork, mechanics and a fighter’s mentality. It’s more than just responding to emergencies, it also teaches students how to pivot and go on the offense.
Daniel M. Babor,supervisory air marshal in charge of the Federal Air Marshals, says, “Passengers should feel safe and secure that they’re going to get from point A to B without any disruption to their travel plan.”
The class ends with a mock hijacking, where students practice kicks and resistance moves against a “hijacker” wearing plenty of padding.
The hope is that having trained flight crew along with the air marshals will reduce threats from both hijackers and aggressive passengers.