AFA's battle against air rage kicks into high gear

WASHINGTON: Air rage has increased dramatically in the past three

years.



To highlight this growing concern, the Association of Flight Attendants

(AFA) is on a PR-fueled crusade to get the Federal Aviation

Administration (FAA) to provide mandatory training for crew members on

how to handle the problem.



Last year, there were an estimated 4,000 acts of passenger misconduct,

including cursing, physical violence, or extreme acts such as trying to

break into the cockpit or open the emergency hatch.



To help with the media portion of the campaign, the AFA called in Tricom

Associates, an Arlington, VA-based agency. Staffers spent the bulk of

their time on the phone pitching the story to national newspapers and

television stations.



"It's a good, solid story that has had great timing," said Scott

Treibitz, president of Tricom. "Congress was out, the president was on

vacation, and the media was looking for something to plug into that

gap."



The AFA held a press conference at Reagan National Airport in

Washington, DC, where members handed out copies of an "Air Rage Report

Card" that "flunked" the Justice Department and the FAA for the way the

organizations have handled the issue.



The press conference was held July 6 - the first anniversary of "Zero

Air Rage Day," launched by the International Transport Workers

Federation, a worldwide coalition of air-travel personnel. Last week's

event was covered on Today, Good Morning America, CNN, and C-SPAN, as

well as in national newspapers.



Flight attendants in DC, San Francisco, Phoenix, and Charlotte, NC,

handed out leaflets to inform the public about their stance on air

rage.



"We don't want to wait until a disaster strikes to bring attention to

what's happening," said Dawn Deeks, spokesperson for the AFA.



A commentary by the group will be printed in an upcoming issue of

Smithsonian Air and Space Magazine to coincide with the campaign.



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