It has become public knowledge that flight attendants duct-tape unruly passengers mid-flight to restrain them until they can perform an emergency landing. But it seems as if violence onboard aircrafts continues to plague the travel industry.
Frontier and American flight attendants are companies who use duct tape to restrain passengers who are attacking crew members or other passengers and last week, crew members on an American Airlines flight duct-taped a thirteen-year-old boy to his seat after he reportedly attempted to kick out a window mid-flight.
And now, flight attendants have explained to Insider why they use such a controversial method to restrain passengers. They said that though duct tape may keep violent passengers from endangering others, it can interfere with an emergency evacuation.
Many flight attendants said they were trained to use other restraints, like zip ties or flex-cuffs, as well as duct tape.
However, restraints are used as a final order, with flight attendants trained to de-escalate situations by first verbally calming down aggressive passengers. However, if that traveler continues to pose a physical level of threat, such as hitting others or threatening to harm themselves or the plane, that is when crew members are trained to use restraints like tape or zip-ties.
A Chicago-based flight attendant said she has never had to tape a passenger up herself, but explained how the restraints are meant to be temporary until they can babe took off the plane, as soon as possible.
The Federal Aviation Administration has investigated 600 unruly passenger reports this year — nearly double the combined total of reports in 2019 and 2020.
Many incidents surround disagreements over wearing face masks, with some flight attendants claiming to be punched, groped, spat at, and verbally abused due to tension on board.
The controversy comes as some crew members stressed that unruly passengers should not be restrained to any part of the aircraft as they cannot evacuate under 90 seconds and could keep others from evacuating the plane in an emergency.
“Duct tape is a big violation in my opinion due to safety issues,” the flight attendant told Insider. “It’s a very, very last resort.”
Nas Lewis is a flight attendant and founder of a mental health resource group and said crew members are trained to protect cabin and flight crew at all costs. She stressed that the job can be dangerous and flight attendants are not “glorified waitresses” but are trained to react to threats and stimuli.
“We are first responders up there and the respect is lacking,” she said.