Fight Club: Flight Attendants Take Self-Defense Courses to Deal With Problematic Passengers

(AP Photo/TT News Agency, Aleksi Tuomola, File)

For more than a decade, debate’s remained hot over the arming of teachers — what’s the best way to ensure safety at America’s schools?

That controversy continues, but what about another vulnerable societal space — the cabins of commercial airplanes?


Measures are in place to prevent passengers boarding with knives or guns, but madness is a weapon all its own.

And as we all know, at 40,000 feet, sometimes there’s high anxiety.

Beyond the employment of an air marshal, what can staff in a hollow tube do to keep the friendly skies just that?

We’ve seen a stunning rise in stormy behavior: According to the Federal Aviation Administration, since January 1st, there’ve been 3,500+ reports of unruly passengers.

As relayed by the New York Post, the Transportation Security Administration’s recorded “an average of 12 ‘inflight disturbances’ per 1 million screened passengers” this year.

Such incidents have spiked 500 percent.

In my view, it makes sense: If the world’s going mad on the ground, why wouldn’t the same apply above?

Many in-air issues have related to mask refusal, but I believe the last year’s been generally filled with stress.

Pack people like sardines, and that pent up emotion is bound to explode.

There are means by which to deal: As the saying goes, duct tape can fix anything:

Clearly, airborne unruliness is nothing new:


But how can we better equip plane staff in these turbulent times?

The TSA has an idea: It’s re-initiated self-defense courses for flight attendants.

From the Post:

The Federal Air Marshal Service teach the one-day course, which had been paused because of the coronavirus pandemic, instructing flight attendants how to punch and even eye-poke using a fight mannequin.

A video of the training — involving an extremely mean-looking practice dummy — captures the instructor charging, “You are going to possibly die. You need to defend yourself at all costs.”

“It’s sad that it needs to happen,” one flight attendant says in the clip.

As for that need, per CBS Miami, “Federal documents detail how passengers have berated, grabbed, and struck flight attendants thousands of times since the start of a zero-tolerance policy earlier this year.”

You may remember this:

Noel Curtin — Assistant Supervisor of Air Marshal in Charge, TSA Miami field office — pointed out to CBS, “There’s no backup at 30,000 feet. So that plane is in the air, it has a crew that has to deal with the [problems], and it’s incumbent on us to make sure they’re fully equipped.”

It certainly stinks that a flight attendant would have to worry over fighting passengers as if they’re in the octagon.


However, in my opinion, better safe than sorry — self-defense classes for the crew is a great idea.

Perhaps with training, incendiary events will be handled more aptly, to the benefit of not only other passengers but the person causing the ruckus.

It’s a fallen world, so that 100-lb. lady pushing the drink cart may as well know how to serve a palm strike in a pinch — only as a last resort.

At present, though, takers are few and far between: Mere hundreds have enrolled in the class since it reopened in June.

Hopefully, more will sign on.

And even more hopefully, of course, those suited-up stewards’ and stewardesses’ honed, ninja-like reflexes will never be needed.



See more pieces from me:

Meghan McCain Calls Continued Masking ‘Stupid,’ Predicts a ‘Completely Divided America’

Petition to Major University Claims Birth Names on Diplomas Make Trans Students Unsafe

Surprise: Twitter Bans the Nation of Islam, but Not for Anti-Semitism

Find all my RedState work here.

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