With stories of passengers being duct taped to their seats making headlines, United Airlines has reminded flight attendants that they are not to use tape if a problematic passenger must be restrained.
United Airlines Tells Flight attendants That Tape Should Not Be Used To Restrain Passengers
I recently discussed how United Airlines embraces a more pragmatic approach to dealing with poor behavior onboard. Instead of nasty threats and diversions, United uses warnings and as a general policy, will not divert a flight if a passenger refuses to wear a mask. While choosing to avoid conflict may encourage compliance gaps and poor behavior onboard, the balance has served United well, which reported a steep drop in the number of onboard incidents in 2021 while other carriers have encountered escalating conflict.
In a memo from United to flight attendants shared with Live and Let’s Fly, United again explains its de-escalation process and reminds flight attendants that “alternative measures such as tape” should “never” be used because there are already “designated items” onboard to deal with “difficult situations.”
- Address difficult situations calmly by informing, de-escalating and following our reporting process.
- In the event you are unable to reach an agreement with a customer about one of our safety-related policies, you should follow your regular de-escalation and training process and always use your best judgment.
- Please remember that there are designated items onboard that may be used in difficult situations, and alternative measures such as tape should never be used.
- On the ground, oftentimes, the huddle process is a good way to remedy a situation with a customer, which involves discussing the situation with the Captain, Customer Service Representative and Ground Security Coordinator for evaluations and solutions.
- As always, leverage the [safety manual] to guide your decision-making if you feel a customer should be denied onboard service.
- Completing a detailed and timely [incident report] is critical to our ability to investigate and act in cases of customer disruption onboard. Please be sure to include as many details as possible, like the customer’s name, seat number and a detailed description of the event.
Part of the reluctance to use duct tape (i.e. any means necessary) to restrain an unruly passenger may still stem from scars over the David Dao dragging incident of 2017. That incident was a defining moment for United and led to a transformation, at least on paper, of the customer service model.
United’s reluctance to tell flight attendants to use whatever means necessary may be seen as a way to ensure an over-zealous flight attendant does not make global headlines over the treatment of a passenger.
Ultimately, passenger restraints are sometimes necessary. I certainly don’t fault Frontier flight attendant for using duct tape to keep unruly Maxwell Berry quiet when he was blurting out profanities at the top of his lungs. In that sense, zip ties (or handcuffs of any sort) don’t keep a lout quiet. While I’d strongly discourage the use of duct tape, I’d never say never…