During a short hotel shuttle bus ride to the airport, the flight attendants on the bus with me were discussing the face mask policy. As I quietly listened, it was clear they were completely ready to ditch the airplane face mask policy. They even said they’d vote out Sara Nelson, the head of their union if she continued to push for it.
Who books a 5:30 AM flight? This guy, apparently. While the logic behind my insanely early flight is questionable, the bleary-eyed hotel shuttle ride to the airport turned out to be mildly interesting.
At the risk of getting this crew in trouble, I will leave out the specifics of where I was traveling and what airline, but it was a domestic flight on a major domestic carrier not named Southwest.
As the crew (who incidentally were working for my flight) were chatting, the multi-gendered and multi-racial group began to discuss the face mask policy. One flight attendant, an African-American woman, stated that this “stupid face mask policy needs to go! We need to breathe again!” The rest of the flight crew vigorously agreed.
One of the male flight attendants had just shared how he’d spent three weeks in the ICU with COVID, and even he was vociferously against the policy being extended this month.
The female flight attendant who initially commented about the policy also stated that if “Nelson pushes to extend this mask policy again, we are going to vote her ass out!” Again, vigorous assent from the rest of the crew. By now, another airline had joined the shuttle and while they don’t have a union, they were in support of this approach as well.
Sara Nelson is the current president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, AFL-CIO. She is known as the most powerful flight attendant in the country and has been staunch with her support of the face mask policy which is set to expire on March 18th of this month.
Following the testimony of several airline CEO’s in December of 2021, Nelson released the following statement regarding mask wear.
“Masks are a critical component of aviation safety during this pandemic. We have worked with airlines and the federal government to ensure multiple safety measures are in place to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 onboard. Because of that work, when all of the protocols are followed the aircraft cabin is one of the most controlled environments in public life. The layered safety protocols including sanitation of the aircraft, HEPA filtration on most planes, the federal mask mandate, and limited onboard service. But over the last few months as cases dropped and vaccinations climbed, some of these protocols were loosened. We cannot and should not let our guard down, especially as COVID cases are spiking again. Our youngest passengers under five still don’t have access to the vaccines, nor do individuals who are traveling for medical purposes and cannot safely get vaccinated. As this surge shows, we are still in the middle of this pandemic. To ensure the health of aviation workers and the economic recovery of our industry, we must continue applying these important public health measures throughout our aviation system for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency. This includes running the air filtration system while on the ground on planes where HEPA filters are present too. We all look forward to the day when masks are no longer needed. We need everyone to get vaccinated to make this possible. As we’ve said for months, get vaxxed, boosted, wear a mask, be kind and come fly with us.”Sara Nelson
Is the tide starting to turn on FA’s support for masks? Do many other FA’s, forced to wear a mask for 14 hours a day, and deal with idiot passengers on multiple occasions, share these opinions? Is Nelson out of touch with her union? Who knows…I was just incredibly surprised by how intense the hatred of the masks was by this one flight crew and how “done” they were with them and with Nelson.
Flight attendant readers: we’d love to hear from you. Drop us a comment below on where you stand.
YES! DL FA here, and almost everyone I know is tired of it. There is absolutely no support from my regular colleagues to extend this, although I will say there is some tepid support from west coast based crews. Most of us are praying this ends in two weeks. The constant masking truly lowers the enjoyment of this job…it’s not what I signed up for at all.