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"New Work World for Airline Crews"



Friday, February 1, 2002

New Work World for Airline Crews
By JONATHAN D. SALANT
The Associated Press


WASHINGTON -- Even as air travel returns to pre-Sept. 11 levels, airline
flight crews say their jobs won't be the same. 

"We're on the front lines now," says Mari Cristiani, who has been a
flight attendant for 18 years. 

Pilots go through security procedures that didn't exist four months ago.
Some tell passengers they may be needed to quell a potential hijacking.
Many want guns in the cockpit. 

"You don't have your friends get horribly murdered like that, and
airplanes used as missiles of destruction, and not have some change in
the way you go about your business," said pilot Todd Wissing. 

Crews survey the passengers as they board, watching for potential
terrorists and those who can be called upon to help stop them. Some
flight attendants are taking self-defense courses on their own, and the
Federal Aviation Administration has approved new training procedures. 

"It's a different place to go to work today that it was on September
10," said Patricia Friend, a flight attendant for more than 35 years and
president of the Association of Flight Attendants. "Maybe we all lost
our innocence on that day. You just look at the aircraft cabin in a
different way." 

Though security is tighter since Sept. 11, flight crews say neither the
government nor the airlines have gone far enough. They complain that
they are being singled out for extra scrutiny while some passengers have
gotten knives and guns past security checkpoints. 

"It does not make us feel safe to see a mother and her three children
pulled aside and searched," said flight attendant Lori Bassani. "More
intelligent screening of the passengers needs to be done instead of just
going through the motions." 

Flight crews also have to deal with passengers, many of whom were
already reluctant or fearful flyers. 

"Our jobs have pretty much shifted totally away from customer service,"
said flight attendant Trice Johnson said. "We're now pretty much in the
business of security. A lot of times we have to answer questions about,
"Did you check out that guy?' You're just trying to assure people that,
'Yes, he went through security.'" 

The concerns of pilots and flight attendants have brought them into
conflict with an airline industry that is caught between the desire to
both tighten security and avoid long delays. 

Airline officials insist there is no conflict. "You don't want to have
delays but the risk of compromising security to meet an on-time
departure is unacceptable," said Michael Wascom, a spokesman for the Air
Transport Association, the trade group for the major airlines. 

No airline has been harder hit than American. Two of the four planes
hijacked Sept. 11 were American planes, as was the pre-Christmas
Paris-to-Miami flight that a passenger boarded with explosives hidden in
his shoes. 

In addition, an American plane crashed in November shortly after taking
off from Kennedy Airport, though authorities do not believe it was a
terrorist attack. 

One sore point is that American's management has terminated pre-flight
security briefings that captains gave to their crews -- a feature of
every flight since the terrorist attacks. Pilots say they were told that
the briefings were delaying takeoffs. 

American spokeswoman Karen Watson said captains can continue security
briefings if they want, but the airline decided to stop requiring them
as post-Sept. 11 procedures became routine. 

On the Net: 

Allied Pilots Association (American pilots union):
http://www.alliedpilots.org 

Association of Flight Attendants: http://www.afanet.org 

Regional Airline Association: http://www.raa.org 

Air Transport Association: http://www.airlines.org 

Federal Aviation Administration: http://www.faa.gov 


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