More Than 80 Percent of Flight Attendants Hurt in Past Year
Fontaine, Tom, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
More than 80 percent of flight attendants in a survey were hurt in the past year by hoisting or stashing passengers' carry-on bags, which have grown in size and number since airlines started imposing fees on checked luggage, according to the world's largest flight attendants' union.
The Association of Flight Attendants, with more than 50,000 members, wants Congress to set a size limit on carry-on bags because airlines' restrictions vary. A related bill in Congress has languished in an aviation subcommittee since June.
The largest trade group for the nation's airlines, however, opposes government intervention.
"It's the carriers' responsibility to enforce their own policies. Ultimately, the size and limit of bags are based on the size of the aircraft (the airlines) fly and the wants and needs of their passengers," said Air Transport Association spokesman David Castelveter.
"We have seen no responsible study that would validate that injuries are occurring as a result of existing policies," Castelveter said.
But Association of Flight Attendants spokeswoman Corey Caldwell said the union surveyed 1,300 members about baggage-related injuries. Records kept by airlines don't tell the whole story, she said.
"Unless a flight attendant is seriously injured, they're not going to report an injury, because they need to make a living. And if flight attendants aren't reporting it, passengers aren't either," Caldwell said.
The survey said 81 percent of attendants indicated they "pulled muscles or felt pain" in the previous 12 months while opening or closing overhead bins, placing bags into the bins or removing bags from them. Injuries most commonly reported were muscle sprains, strains and tears, though two attendants said they suffered concussions, and one dislocated a shoulder, Caldwell said.
The survey found about a third of attendants tripped over carry- on bags protruding into aisles, and half saw bags fall out of overhead bins -- often onto an attendant or passenger. …