Some airlines still aren’t selling alcohol aboard flights, and it’s one of the changes flight attendants hope will stay in place as travel rebounds

Airline Drink
Alcohol has been involved in some violence attacks against flight attendants.

  • Some flight attendants told Insider they favor limiting alcohol sales on flights due to recent violent outbreaks.
  • Airlines like Southwest, United, and American have delayed bringing back in-flight alcohol service.
  • Flight attendants previously told Insider the pandemic made passengers more aggressive.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

For one Los Angeles-based flight attendant, not serving alcohol on board was the best part of working during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Airlines reduced interaction between crew members and passengers by limiting in-flight snack and drink options – one of those changes being getting rid of alcoholic beverages.

Delta and American Airlines, for instance, stopped offering alcohol to economy passengers on domestic flights beginning the summer of 2020. Southwest and American reported an increase in passengers drinking their own booze on board, a move banned by the Federal Aviation Administration that can result in fines of up to $11,000.

But the LA-based flight attendant isn’t in any rush to bring alcohol back on board as travel rebounds following pandemic lows, despite her passengers still asking for drinks.

“When we have problems that escalate, they would be escalated ten times more if they were fueled by alcohol,” the flight attendant told Insider. She and other flight attendants Insider spoke to for this article wished to remain anonymous so they could speak without fear of retaliation.

Now, many airlines are extending the ban on booze. Southwest, for instance, announced it would not resume alcohol service until the end of July due to a recent surge in in-flight disruptions by passengers. United announced it would only offer beer, wine, and hard seltzer on flights longer than 800 miles, and American has suspended alcohol in the main cabin altogether.

Delta, however, resumed serving limited alcohol in the main cabin in mid-April after suspending the service during the pandemic.

“Nothing is more important than the safety of our people and customers, and as such, we will not tolerate any unsafe behavior,” a Delta spokesperson told Insider. “We are confident in the robust set of procedures and support systems we have in place and do not plan to remove or adjust alcohol service at this time.”

Flight attendants say alcohol fuels already tense interactions about mask mandates

Flight attendants previously told Insider the COVID-19 pandemic made passengers more aggressive with them due to differences over mask policies. Airlines have banned thousands of passengers for violating onboard mask policies, and the Federal Aviation Administration proposed fines of more than $100,000 against four airline passengers accused of unruly behavior towards crew members.

Daz, a Las Vegas-based flight attendant for a major carrier, said eating and drinking on board made it more difficult for him to enforce mask policies. He said some passengers would wear masks incorrectly under the guise of slowly eating and drinking.

“Those are the things that irritate me because I can’t really dictate to you how to eat and drink your food,” Daz told Insider. “That’s definitely an annoying part of it, the whole mask compliance and people kind of using it to work the system a little bit.”

The FAA proposed a $15,000 penalty against one JetBlue Airlines passenger who hit and yelled obscenities to a flight attendant after consuming champagne from a first-class passenger, according to a release. The FAA fined another passenger $15,000 for yelling at a flight attendant after consuming his own alcohol.

A San Francisco-based flight attendant said she deplaned two passengers in the last year and a half due to them not abiding by federal mask mandates. She said all of the instances where passengers got overly aggressive about the mask policies were when they had been drinking.

“I think that a lot of people are not happy about having to wear the mask,” she said. “In my opinion, the only time it’s been a problem is someone who has also been drinking.”

Got a tip? If you are a flight attendant who would like to share your experience, email the author at aakhtar@insider.com.

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Some flight attendants say they’re looking forward to travel bouncing back from pandemic lows, even as passenger violence surges

flight attendants
Some flight attendants are looking forward to US travel rebounding during summer 2021.

  • Five flight attendants told Insider they are looking forward to travel rebounding this summer.
  • Workers miss the ability to explore cities during layovers and hanging out with crew members.
  • Some added they feel a better sense of job security compared to the height of the pandemic.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Sarah, a Georgia-based flight attendant for a major US carrier who said she worked throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, is ready for travel to rebound.

Recent data shows Americans are ready to see the outside of their homes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention greenlit travel for vaccinated people in April. A record 1.9 million people went through airport security ahead of Memorial Day weekend, up from the just 327,000 passengers screened the same time last year. Americans are taking advantage of dirt-cheap fares and already booking trips for Christmas.

Sarah said she enjoyed the decreased stress that came while working over the pandemic, servicing emptier planes when people felt less safe flying. She added boarding back-to-front and assisting fewer passengers with their luggage made her job more efficient.

But more than a year after the pandemic, Sarah, who, like many of the other flight attendants interviewed, requested to remain anonymous to speak without fear of retaliation, said she is excited for the perks of her job – like visiting new destinations during layovers – that got put on hold.

“We want travel to come back, flight attendants probably the most,” she told Insider. “We miss traveling on our off days and we want travel to be safe for everyone.”

Got a tip? If you are a flight attendant and wish to share your experience, contact the author at aakhtar@insider.com.

Though the pandemic has changed how we fly, some flight attendants are ‘cautiously optimistic’ about travel’s return

A San Francisco-based flight attendant said the job lost some of its “glamour” during the pandemic, as crew members couldn’t visit beaches and other attractions due to quarantine mandates across many US states. The flight attendant recalled packing her lunch in mid-2020 for flights because airports had closed many restaurants.

“I just had back-to-back layovers in Hawaii and, you know, crew members are not exempt from quarantine,” the flight attendant said. “In the old days, I would have been laying out my bikini, so it’s definitely a little less glamorous now that’s for sure.”

The San Francisco-based flight attendant said the job had become lonelier during the pandemic because she and other crew members could not go out for happy hours due to COVID restrictions. Some protocols have left flight attendants feeling lonelier aboard planes, too.

“I miss so much being able to smile at my passengers,” she said. “I do smile now, but you know, you can’t see it. I hope that my passengers can feel it, but I do miss being able to actually give them a real smile.”

Jenn Ayala, a flight attendant based in New Jersey, told Insider that she also feels like wearing masks had made communicating with passengers more difficult, and took a hit on the customer service part of the job.

Policing passengers over mask policies had made passengers more aggressive during the pandemic, flight attendants recently told Insider. The Federal Aviation Administration said it received 2,500 reports of unruly behavior by passengers since January 2021. About 1,900 of the reports deal with passengers who refused to comply with the federal facemask mandate.

Per the CDC, Americans – both vaccinated and unvaccinated – still must wear masks in airports and on transportation. But airlines like United and Delta are taking harder approaches to COVID-19 safety than other private firms by requiring new flight attendants get vaccinated.

Anthony Fauci said he predicts all airlines and cruise ships will require proof of COVID-19 vaccination before getting on board.

Sarah said she feels safe flying because she knows vaccines are safe and airlines continuously filter air in the cabin.

Though she said passengers who don’t want to wear masks have been “challenging” to deal with, Sarah said she’s seeing less nervous passengers and people boarding the plane wearing hazmat suits the last few weeks – a sign that Americans are thankful to be in the air after being “cooped up” at home.

“As of right now, I’m cautiously optimistic for the future of airline travel,” Sarah said. “I’m really proud of how US airlines have handled flying during the pandemic and keeping everyone safe.”

Other flight attendants said more travel means more job stability.

One Los Angeles-based flight said another benefit for the uptick in travel is decreased fear of furloughs and layoffs.

American and United began furloughing workers on September 30 after projecting the two would layoff a combined 32,000 workers. Globally, airlines may have cut nearly 5 million jobs if travel did not rebound after COVID-19, according to an analysis by the Air Transport Action Group.

But one year later, American, Delta, United, and Southwest all announced they will hire pilots and other positions before the end of 2021. The Association of Flight Attendants union expects the number of flight attendant jobs to climb from 80,000 in June to 100,000 by 2023, Insider’s Kate Duffy reported.

“The more flying we have, the better it is for both passengers and crew members,” the LA-based flight attendant said. “I hope everything stays and we don’t have any setbacks going forward.”

One Chicago-based flight attendant told Insider she got laid off for four months during the winter, and came back on board in March. She said the state of the industry had been in such a flux that she didn’t know whether to wait until she got called back or to find another job.

She said she’s ready for airline travel to go “back to normal,” and she’s happy to see flights full again.

“I really love my job,” the flight attendant said. “I didn’t realize how much I would miss interacting with people until I was furloughed and quarantined. The furlough made me appreciate my job more.”

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Videos shows a man who allegedly tried to hijack a Delta flight being restrained and zip-tied by passengers and flight attendants

Unruly passenger restrained on Delta flight
Videos show that a passenger was restrained and had his wrists zip-tied on a Delta flight to Nashville on June 4, 2021.

  • A man attempted to breach the cockpit of a Delta Air Lines flight from LA to Nashville.
  • The plane had to make an emergency landing in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
  • Videos show passengers and flight attendants working together to restrain the man.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A passenger attempted to breach the cockpit of a Delta Air Lines flight from Los Angeles to Nashville on Friday, according to CNN.

The plane had to make an emergency landing in Albuquerque, New Mexico, after the man began banging on the doors of the pilot’s cabin, CNN reported.

The cockpit was not breached, the media outlet said. The man was taken into federal custody, CBS Los Angeles reported.

Read more: ‘Harvard of the sky’: Meet the woman training private-jet flight attendants to serve the world’s most elite travelers

A video from the incident shows flight attendants and passengers restrained a man who repeatedly says, “Stop the plane.”

Another video shows the man having his wrists zip-tied before being escorted off the flight.

Delta thanked those who helped restrain the would-be hijacker.

“Thanks to the crew and passengers of Delta Flight 386, LAX to Nashville (BNA), who assisted in detaining an unruly passenger as the flight diverted to Albuquerque (ABQ),” a statement said. “The aircraft landed without incident and the passenger was removed by law enforcement.”

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was said to be investigating the incident, according to the Associated Press.

The Federal Aviation Administration is cracking down on misconduct amid a surge of troubling episodes in recent months, Insider’s Erin Snodgrass reported.

The agency received some 1,300 unruly-passenger reports between February and May of this year, Insider’s Tim Levin wrote.

Read the original article on Business Insider

A Southwest Airlines flight attendant allegedly lost two teeth after a passenger assault, and it illustrates a growing trend of unruly behavior on flights

Southwest Airlines Boeing 737
A Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-800.

  • Southwest Airlines said a passenger was verbally and physically abusive toward a flight attendant on Sunday.
  • A flight-attendants union says 477 incidents have occured on Southwest Airlines’ flights.
  • The Federal Aviation Administration warned instances of unruly behavior on flights are increasing.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A flight attendant for Southwest Airlines was assaulted over the weekend and lost two teeth from the incident, according to a letter a flight-attendant union sent to the company’s CEO, Gary Kelly, on Monday.

The letter, from the Transport Workers Union of America local 556 (TWU), said there have been 477 incidents of violence and unruly behavior on Southwest Airlines flights between April 8 and May 15. Earlier in the month, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said it had received 2,500 reports of unruly passengers since January.

“This unprecedented number of incidents has reached an intolerable level, with passenger non-compliance events also becoming more aggressive in nature,” the union wrote. “Today’s traveling environment requires a new level of firmness in both tone and direction to ensure proper control in the cabin of our aircraft as the attitudes and behaviors of the flying public have, unfortunately, declined.”

A Southwest Airlines spokesperson confirmed the incident occured on a flight from Sacramento to San Diego on Sunday morning.

“The passenger repeatedly ignored standard in-flight instructions (tray table in upright position, seat belt, etc.) and became verbally and physically abusive upon landing,” the spokesperson said. “We do not condone or tolerate verbal or physical abuse of our Flight Crews, who are responsible for the safety of our passengers.”

The spokesperson told Insider the company is working with the FAA to improve safety measures for flight attendants and passengers. The passenger, who was identified as a 28-year-old woman, was taken into police custody and has been charged with felony battery, USA Today reported.

The incident is just one of many to occur on airplanes in the past few months. Earlier this month, the FAA said it was seeing a spike of unruly and aggressive behavior on airlines, citing moments when passengers hit, yelled, and shoved flight attendants. The agency proposed fines of up to $15,000 for five passengers accused of interfering with and assaulting flight attendants.

Flight attendants told Insider’s Allana Akhtar that the pandemic has made passengers increasingly non-compliant and aggressive, especially when it came to enforcing the federally mandated mask policy for airlines. While the CDC lifted the mask mandate for fully vaccinated people in many spaces, customers are still required to wear masks on public aircrafts.

In its letter, the flight-attendants union called for increased penalties and restrictions for passengers who demonstrate “egregious behavior,” as well as an increase in the number of federal air marshals on flights.

“The last year has brought many unknowns, and much has been out of our control,” the union said. “Please keep your crews in mind and understand the impact of today’s environment on our Crews’ working conditions.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Some flight attendants said they didn’t get sick nearly as much during the pandemic due to extra cleaning and mask-wearing – and they hope airlines keep sanitation a priority as travel rebounds

flight attendant mask covid
Flight attendants they have gotten sick less due to pandemic-era cleaning protocols.

  • Flight attendants said they got sick less during the pandemic due to increased airline sanitization.
  • Airlines began overhauling cleaning in early 2020, when many experts thought COVID spread through shared surfaces.
  • As more people get vaccinated and start traveling, workers hope airline cleanliness will remain.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Some flight attendants said pandemic-fueled airline cleanliness has decreased the likelihood of getting sick on board.

One Chicago-based flight attendant, who has been working for more than seven years, said she would usually get sick with a cold or flu around two to three times per year due to the amount of people she was exposed to on the job.

But she told Insider she hasn’t had a cold at all this year. The flight attendant credits the use of masks and decreased passenger interaction to her better health during the pandemic.

“There’s not much passenger interaction, and that’s intentional because of how high risk flight attendants are,” the flight attendant told Insider. “We are flying around all the time. We have a higher risk of infecting more people if we were to contract COVID, so they want us to have as little interaction as possible while still maintaining safety standards.”

The Association of Flight Attendants union reported 3,500 flight attendants contracted COVID-19 as of March 2021. But Insider spoke with seven flight attendants who said they like the industry’s commitment to airline sanitization, and hopes its commitment to public health continues after the pandemic.

All flight attendants interviewed work for major US carriers, though they asked not to name their employers in order to speak openly. Insider confirmed the employment of all the flight attendants featured, including those who wished to stay anonymous so they could speak without fear of retaliation from airlines.

Got a tip? If you’re a flight attendant with a story to share, email the author at aakhtar@insider.com.

Airlines overhauled cleanliness during the COVID-19 pandemic – and flight attendants said they got sick less.

Airlines around the world began overhauling cleanliness in early 2020, when many epidemiologists believed COVID-19 spread through shared surfaces. Australian airline Qantas and Korean Air began using hospital-grade disinfectant designed to kill MERS and avian flu starting February 2020.

Carriers in the US began using new cleaning methods last year to ensure passenger and crew safety. United, Delta, and American began “fogging” the inside of cabins with electrically-charged, high-grade disinfectant. JetBlue added detailed “dos and don’ts” on preventing COVID-19 transmissions to its entertainment monitors, Insider’s Thomas Pallini reported.

Sarah, a Georgia-based flight attendant with a major US carrier, said the biggest difference she’s noticed at work has been the “cleanliness factor,” or how airlines have stepped up their filtration systems and cleaning in-between flights.

“As flight attendants, we have a lot more of an active role in making sure the airlines are clean,” Sarah told Insider. “There’s just a lot more emphasis on the cleanliness of the aircraft.”

covid airplane cleaning
Brandon Wilson, owner of AvidJet, disinfects a Frontier airplane with a fogger.

Pia, a Detroit-based flight attendant, told Insider she enjoyed working early in the pandemic because people did not know much about how COVID-19 spread and wanted to limit their interactions as much as possible. “It was just a very smooth process,” she added.

As better research showed COVID-19 is mainly transmitted through the air rather than touched surfaces, airlines have touted their high-quality airline filtration to get people back on board. Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly said passengers “should fly” during the coronavirus pandemic because of how well air cabins recirculate and filter air.

Jenn Ayala, a flight attendant based in New Jersey, said before going on flights she would take vitamin C and hope she didn’t get sick. With additional spraying of cabins and physical distancing, Ayala said she worries less about getting sick on board.

“It just makes you feel safer to know your flight has been disinfected, no matter how short the leg is,” Ayala told Insider. “Even if it’s a 20 minute quick turn, they’re still going to spray.”

Some flight attendants hope airlines’ commitment to public health can stick around for good.

Americans are gearing up for a summer of travel, according to recent data.

The Transportation Security Administration said it screened 1.8 million people at airport security this month, marking a new record high number of air travelers since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention relaxed COVID-19 safety guidelines for vaccinated people, but all Americans will need to continue to wear masks inside airports and on airplanes.

The airline industry, which lost significant revenue during the pandemic, is doing away with some COVID-19 safety measures. Southwest rolled back cleaning procedures in August to speed up plane turnaround times, and Delta stopped blocking the middle seat on May 1.

But some flight attendants said they are hoping the industry’s dedication to public health sticks around for good.

One San Francisco-based flight attendant said the profession requires her to be exposed to hundreds of people per day, which requires having a robust immune system.

“I honestly don’t really get sick in general,” the flight attendant said. “I think that flight attendants and cockroaches would be the only people to survive the apocalypse, just because we’re exposed to so much.”

Though the flight attendant said though she did not get sick much before the pandemic, her airline used to discourage employees from taking too much sick time.

She said a positive change from the pandemic is her carrier’s more lenient attitude toward taking sick days. Before the pandemic, calling in sick for two weeks would result in “big trouble,” but her airline granted 14-day quarantine periods for people exposed to COVID-19 to protect the rest of the crew.

“I think that if someone’s sick, they shouldn’t be coming to work, they shouldn’t be pressured to come to work,” the flight attendant added. “So I hope going forward, the airlines will keep [that] in mind.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Some flight attendants say the pandemic has made passengers less patient and more likely to get aggressive with them

flight attendant covid masks
A flight attendant exits a Delta Airlines flight at the Ronald Reagan National Airport on July 22, 2020 in Arlington, Virginia.

Between the pandemic, the election, and nationwide protests, the past year has been contentious – and that’s been reflected during airplane rides, flight attendants say.

Some flight attendants who spoke with Insider said hostility from passengers and tensions on the plane have increased over the last year, and haven’t calmed down even as US COVID-19 infections slow.

Viral videos circulated all year depicting passengers getting thrown off flights for refusing to wear masks. Airlines have banned thousands of passengers for violating onboard mask policies. The Federal Aviation Administration recently fined a JetBlue passenger $32,750 for refusing to wear a mask on board, throwing bottles of alcohol, and hitting crew members.

“You have some people that think the mask is a complete farce and it’s ridiculous, and then you have some passengers that are terrified that they’re going to catch COVID on the airplane,” one San Francisco-based flight attendant who wished to remain anonymous told Insider.

“You’re trying to be as patient as possible and sympathize with both perspectives because as a flight attendant, you’re basically a mediator, that’s a huge part of our job.”

Insider spoke with seven flight attendants on how interactions with passengers changed during the pandemic. All flight attendants interviewed work for major US carriers, though they asked not to name their employers in order to speak openly. Insider confirmed the employment of all the flight attendants featured, including those who wished to stay anonymous so they could speak without fear of retaliation from airlines.

Got a tip? If you’re a flight attendant with a story to share, email the author at aakhtar@insider.com.

Delta Flight Attendant Mask Coronavirus COVID-19

The pandemic has changed the way flight attendants interact with passengers.

Soon after his inauguration, President Joe Biden signed an executive order requiring passengers wear masks on board planes – but flight attendants said the law didn’t deter passengers from rebelling.

Daz, who became a flight attendant during the pandemic, said he was surprised at how many people did not want to comply with the federal mask mandate. Though his favorite part of being a flight attendant is helping make passengers feel comfortable, Daz said it can be intimidating getting angry people who don’t want to wear a mask to comply to the rules. He added his captain will back him up in tense situations.

Similarly, flight attendant Jenn Ayala said one of her favorite parts of the job is greeting passengers and answering their questions, but she said she has dealt with some people angry about the mask mandate. Though she has not dealt with an altercation herself on board, she’s heard the horror stories of flight attendants dealing with rowdy passengers during the pandemic.

“There’s really not much you can do, you can’t force anyone to do anything, but if you want to fly, a mask over your nose isn’t going to hurt for too long,” Ayala said.

A post shared by Jenn ✈ Flight Attendant (@jenn__ayala)

Some flight attendants worry tense relationships between passengers will persist after the pandemic.

Part of the reason for the aggression was due to an influx of new travelers taking advantage of cheap fares and a decline in business travelers, said one Los Angeles-based flight attendant who wished to remain anonymous.

Airlines have cut fares to lure travelers as the number of COVID-19 infections in the US declines. For instance, consumers recently jumped on $226 round-trip flights from Philadelphia to Tokyo, and Avelo, the new low-cost carrier offering $19 flights to some destinations, launched this spring.

The flight attendant said cheap flights are attracting first time flyers, and added she’s had issues with passengers unfamiliar with flight policies refusing to wear masks or listen to other rules. She said passengers in general were less likely to listen to crew members, and she has seen fights breaking out at airports and people being escorted off flights due during the pandemic.

flight attendant mask coronavirus pandemic

“We never had to deal with any of that before,” the flight attendant said. “Before it was a rare day we threw someone off a flight, but now it’s a lot more common.”

Though one Chicago-based flight attendant said she’s experienced a rise in reports flight attendants need to fill out over passengers violating the mask policy, she is looking forward to travel coming back. She said she expects to continue to policy mask wearing onboard airplanes – where even fully vaccinated people must keep their masks on according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – but sees it as an extention of her job to keep everyone safe on board.

“The thing is, our job has always been about safety,” the flight attendant said. “Our priority has always been safety, and masks are a part of safety, so I don’t feel like it’s outside the scope of my job.”

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Breeze is defending a plan to use college students as cabin crew after blowback from the US’ largest flight attendant union

Breeze Airways David Neeleman
Breeze Airways pilots with David Neeleman.

  • Breeze Airways’ plans to save money by hiring college students as carbon crew.
  • The US’ largest flight attendants union said the plan may result in safety issues as the students are inexperienced.
  • However, lower than expected recruitment numbers have forced the airline to open up regular positions.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

David Neeleman’s new startup, Breeze Airways, has ambitious plans to keep costs low when it launches flights this year – but one of its more unique initiatives is putting is receiving the ire of big labor.

Some flight attendants staffing the airline’s planes will be Utah Valley University college students hired through paid work-study programs. The strategy is unique for any modern US airline and is part of Breeze’s strategy to offer extremely low fares on leisure routes.

But students won’t be attending class in the morning and jetting off in the afternoon. Rather, only online students will be eligible for the program, as being a Breeze flight attendant requires a nomadic lifestyle it says is best suited to college students.

“Breeze is looking for ‘Seriously Nice’ current and future UVU Full Time, On-Line students, to work at the newest and nicest airline as a Flight Attendant!” the airline’s job posting reads.

The responsibilities might be more than college students would expect from a run-of-the-mill work-study program. Flight attendants are tasked, in part, with ensuring the safety and well-being of every passenger onboard and guiding them in the event of an emergency. These training programs for all airlines are regulated and approved by the Federal Aviation Administration.

“We expect you to welcome and accommodate Guests, mitigate high-stress situations, collaborate and problem solve with other Team Members, use good judgement, and just be…nice, all while taking on line classes and earning your degree at Utah Valley University!” the posting continues.

Breeze intended for all of its flight attendants to be degree-seeking students. But lower than expected recruitment numbers have required the airline to open up regular positions with no requirements of being a student, airline spokesperson Gareth Edmondson-Jones confirmed to Insider.

“We were getting some good results but we needed to attract more people,” Edmondson-Jones said. “This way, they have both options they can do a regular flight attendant role or they can do it earning a degree on the side.”

A regular position offers 70 guaranteed flight hours per month if candidates agree to a four-year contract, the full-time posting reads. Other than academic requirements, job postings for the two programs are nearly identical, including a minimum age requirement of 18 years. Notably, many other airlines also do not require college degrees to apply.

Read More: JetBlue founder David Neeleman reveals how his new airline can succeed by flying weird routes for low prices

America’s largest flight attendant union has pushed back against Breeze’s plan, citing potential safety issues from using “less experienced and mature” flight crews, Sara Nelson, president of Association of Flight Attendants-CWA union and one of the country’s most vocal labor advocates, told Bloomberg.

Nelson pointed to the cabin crew – with more than 100 years of experience combined – that helped save lives when US Airways flight 1549 made a forced landing in the Hudson River in 2009. While the minimum age of the college-enrolled flight attendants is 18, older applicants can apply through the college program if they enroll as a student.

Breeze maintains that any hired flight attendant, student or not, and will be trained to the required standards regardless of age.

“If you’re a fully trained flight attendant, you’re a fully trained flight attendant,” spokesperson Edmondson-Jones said. “It’s not like if you’re 18 years old, you can’t be a flight attendant.”

Another aspect of the program is also under fire from the flight attendants union. Once the students complete their studies at Utah Valley University, their employment at the airline comes to an end, and they’ll either have to reapply or find jobs elsewhere.

“The whole point of a work-study program is to get experience in a career field,” AFA President Nelson told Bloomberg. “This program turns that on its head. As soon as you get the experience, you’re no longer qualified.”

Tuition assistance for the students-turned-flight-attendants totals $6,000 per year. Additional perks include corporate housing, airport transportation, a monthly salary, and one paid round-trip ticket home per year.

The monthly salary is reported to be $1,200 for around half a month’s work.

Breeze plans to take flight in May after completing Federal Aviation Administration-mandated proving runs across the East Coast and Southeast. Flights will operate between secondary US cities with a focus on low-cost leisure flights on underserved air routes.

Read the original article on Business Insider