Violence in the sky and the psychological toll of the pandemic on travelers
(WXYZ) – As Americans reflect on this Memorial Day, many are also taking flight.
More than 1.6 million Americans were screened at airport checkpoints alone on Sunday. It is one of the busiest travel stretches since the start of the pandemic and comes at a time when hostility in the air is palpable and US officials urge calm.
Violent scenes have unfolded on US domestic flights as mask policies change on the ground but not in the sky. Two teeth were pulled from the mouth of a southwest flight attendant. The passenger was arrested and charged. However, the type of aggression is not isolated.
There has been an increase in horrific clashes as air transport experiences a dramatic increase.
The TSA has screened more than 7 million people since Thursday, a significant jump from the same weekend last year.
“I haven’t been home for two years,” said Nicole Paternosto, a Memorial weekend traveler. “So whatever I do to get home, I’m going to do it to get home.”
US officials warn that violent behavior on flights will have consequences.
“Violence against a flight attendant on a flight is a federal offense,” said Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of Homeland Security.
Airlines have banned hundreds of passengers since the start of the pandemic, for non-compliance with COVID policies. Several flights from Detroit were affected. Last summer, a flight about to take off for Atlanta turned around on the tarmac. Delta abducted two passengers who refused to hide. And last fall, another Delta flight was delayed for the same reason.
The psychological assessment of the pandemic is likely a factor.
“It’s been a trauma for just about everyone,” said Jeffrey Guina, chief medical officer at Easterseals Michigan. “This pandemic has been like a war for the people. It has been frightening and frightening.
Mask requirements are increasing across the country, with more than half of Americans having received at least one dose of the vaccine, and daily cases of COVID have fallen by nearly 70% in recent weeks. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg explained why masks are still needed for federal travel.
“Part of it has to do with the unique conditions of physical space, part with the conditions of a workplace and people who really don’t have a choice to be there like another. case, ”Buttigieg said.
The FAA now imposes penalties of up to $ 15,000 on passengers for violations. Secretary Buttigieg says it comes down to safety and respect.
“Many Americans will be traveling for the first time. It also means, for the first time in a long time, perhaps meeting flight crews, flight attendants and other transport workers, “Buttigieg said.” Remember what they went through. They have been on the front lines of this pandemic; their jobs were in doubt. “
“They are doing their job. They follow the regulations and they are there to keep you safe. It is absolutely unacceptable to mistreat a transport worker.”
From now on, the federal policy on transport masks is in effect until September 13.