FAA Increases Flight Attendant Minimum Rest Period

FAA Increases Flight Attendant Minimum Rest Period

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The minimum rest period for flight attendants in the United States has just increased, thanks to a sensible policy change.

Flight attendant rest period increased to 10 hours

There are all kinds of work rules for airline crews. Minimum rules are generally mandated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and then individual airlines can choose to implement more generous policies as part of their contracts.

Along those lines, the FAA has today finalized a rule requiring a minimum of 10 hours of rest for flight attendants between duty days. This applies when flight attendants have a duty period of up to 14 hours (if the duty period is longer, they get more rest). As a point of comparison, previously flight attendants generally had a minimum of nine hours of rest, though in some cases it could be as little as eight hours of rest.

This is the implementation of a 2018 law, and airlines now have a 90-day period to implement these new rules into their crew scheduling.

Here’s what Sara Nelson, President of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, had to say about this policy change:

“President Biden delivered today. Five years ago after decades of action by AFA members, science to back up our alarm on Flight Attendant fatigue, and relentless efforts with lawmakers, we achieved an overwhelming bipartisan vote to equalize minimum rest with commercial airline pilots. The law could not have been more clear, but instead of taking definitive direction from Congress, the Trump administration put our rest on a regulatory road to kill it. President Biden promised to make this a top priority to correct this and today under the leadership of Secretary Buttigieg and Acting FAA Administrator Nolen the rule for 10 hours irreducible rest for Flight Attendants is final.”

“We have been successful in setting these rest standards in several contracts, but this raises the minimum standard for all Flight Attendants and airlines will have to meet that standard in 90 days. It’s about time! As aviation’s first responders and last line of defense, it is critical that we are well rested and ready to perform our duties. COVID has only exacerbated the safety gap with long duty days, short nights, and combative conditions on planes.”

Flight attendants will be getting more rest between flights

This seems like a reasonable change

It’s important to keep in mind that flight attendant crew rest periods are essentially how long they have in their hotel. This includes the time that that flight attendants have to wind down, get something to eat, sleep, wake-up, freshen up, and get ready for work.

Most flight attendants that had a minimum overnight layover weren’t getting anywhere close to a recommended amount of sleep, and were sometimes doing so multiple nights in a row. This seems like a reasonable, moderate adjustment, that will improve the lives of some flight attendants.

Some will argue that people in other professions often have to work a lot more hours than that (doctors, bankers, etc.). While I get that, I don’t think that’s a constructive comparison, and I’m not sure what the harm is having the government mandate that flight attendants should get a reasonable amount of sleep.

Realistically most airlines weren’t planning minimum layovers for flight attendants anyway, so this shouldn’t cause massive staffing shortages, or anything. The impacts here should be minimal, while assuring that flight attendants are guaranteed a certain amount of rest.

This policy change is a lot more reasonable to me than California’s new crew rest rules, which will actually be problematic and costly to implement. That rule change will no doubt cause airlines to close California crew bases.

This seems like a reasonable policy change to me

Bottom line

The FAA has implemented a new rule that increases the minimum overnight rest period for flight attendants to 10 hours, representing a one hour increase (under most circumstances). Some airlines already had more generous policies regarding minimum rest, though this will provide more consistency in the industry.

I think this is a reasonable change, given that the previous nine hour minimum didn’t actually mean flight attendants would get anywhere close to that much rest. You had nine hours to eat, unwind, sleep, get ready for work, etc., and that can cut into a proper night of sleep.

What do you make of these changes to flight attendant rest rules?

Conversations (29)
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  1. AA 5 Million Miler Guest

    They should just do away with F/A's and have a couple of big dudes to keep order. F/A's are the laziest, overpaid, parasites on the planet.

  2. bernardw Guest

    Exactly what we need to see, more rude and obnoxious over paid under worked hard done by crew hogging the loungers by the pool as they speak crudely about their last passengers and quaff hard liquor. It was once a pleasure to watch the stewardesses gracefully bask in the sun by the hotel pool but not these ones. Work a little harder please and put a smile on your surely face

    1. Ryan Guest

      And that attitude right there is why you’re treated the way you are by FAs.

  3. Bdub Guest

    This was passed during the Trump administration, why this is just now being implemented as if Biden is the hero? This has been a change flight attendants have been fighting for a long time and is still not clearly written in addressing the time rest begins, (30 min after block in is not realistic). International or long haul flights are typically more taxing on the body and the regs for those flights be addressed. Crew...

    This was passed during the Trump administration, why this is just now being implemented as if Biden is the hero? This has been a change flight attendants have been fighting for a long time and is still not clearly written in addressing the time rest begins, (30 min after block in is not realistic). International or long haul flights are typically more taxing on the body and the regs for those flights be addressed. Crew rest in flight does not count. Charter airlines are some of the worst when it comes to scheduling crews.

    1. FlyerDon Guest

      This rule was the result of a mandate from congress and was included in the 2018 FAA reauthorization act which included many other things, including authorization and funding for the FAA itself. Trump had no choice but to sign it. Once signed the mandate was slow walked by the FAA until the Biden Administration made it a higher priority.

  4. Hodor Guest

    "aviation’s first responders"

  5. Hans Guest

    Government megalomania. It worked until now, why change? We need to end these kind of laws.

    1. Daniel Guest

      100%. Nothing should ever change. Everything should stay exactly the same, forever. And on top of that, why are my servants being treated like human beings. I fly because I want to feel a feeling of control over other people's lives and I enjoy their misery. Things like allowing them to get a full night sleep ruins that for me.

      What a stupid opinion. People like you are the most entitled brats on the planet,...

      100%. Nothing should ever change. Everything should stay exactly the same, forever. And on top of that, why are my servants being treated like human beings. I fly because I want to feel a feeling of control over other people's lives and I enjoy their misery. Things like allowing them to get a full night sleep ruins that for me.

      What a stupid opinion. People like you are the most entitled brats on the planet, angry that people are getting an extra hour of rest so they can actually get some sleep. I wish they would bar you and condemn you to a life of Greyhound busses everywhere you go.

    2. Lynda Guest

      Actually NO, it did not work until now!

  6. Dee Guest

    Thank the unions for making this situation worse! Biden has NO CLUE about this!

    1. Steve Guest

      This has nothing to do with politics/unions. This was purely a decision based on science/safety.

      As a pilot for a major airline I strongly support this - this is the minimum rest we are required by law as well. The flying public deserves an entire crew that is rested and at the top of their game for those just in case moments.

      If only we could place this requirement into other safety jobs.

    2. Mike Guest

      Next time you go to the hospital ask your doctors and nurses about their working conditions and how much sleep they get

    3. FlyerDon Guest

      Do you know any doctors that cross several timezones in a given day or try to sleep in three different beds, in three different cities on a four day shift (trip)?

    4. Hans Guest

      What is the safety benefit. How many people have died in the last 20 years due to the old rules. Zero.

    5. AA 5 Million Flyer Guest

      As a pilot for a major airline you're part of the problem!

    6. D Pilit Guest

      You couldn't be more wrong. Even with 10 hours of rest it doesn't account for transportation to a hotel, check in, getting food, or unpacking. And your rest period could start at 8 pm one day and 11 pm the next. Sleep is on the company's schedule, not your body clock.

  7. Nick Guest

    I thought flight attendants pay dues for unions to “protect” them, I guess they all pay dues (aka taxes) to the government to “protect” too…in the end sleep is good!

  8. derek Guest

    The new regulations match the pilot regulations so it's, in practice, not a big deal. The cabin crew and flight crew just remain together, coming in at night and leaving the next day on the same flight.

    However, FA's are complainers and cream puffs. Their job is not that difficult. True, they have to memorize stuff so there's a learning curve. They need to remember the doors of an A320 versus 737 but it's...

    The new regulations match the pilot regulations so it's, in practice, not a big deal. The cabin crew and flight crew just remain together, coming in at night and leaving the next day on the same flight.

    However, FA's are complainers and cream puffs. Their job is not that difficult. True, they have to memorize stuff so there's a learning curve. They need to remember the doors of an A320 versus 737 but it's nothing like balancing lots of important information like a pilot or surgeon.

    1. Bdub Guest

      This was passed during the Trump administration, why this is just now being implemented as if Biden is the hero? This has been a change flight attendants have been fighting for a long time and is still not clearly written in addressing the time rest begins, (30 min after block in is not realistic). International or long haul flights are typically more taxing on the body and the regs for those flights be addressed. Crew...

      This was passed during the Trump administration, why this is just now being implemented as if Biden is the hero? This has been a change flight attendants have been fighting for a long time and is still not clearly written in addressing the time rest begins, (30 min after block in is not realistic). International or long haul flights are typically more taxing on the body and the regs for those flights be addressed. Crew rest in flight does not count. Charter airlines are some of the worst when it comes to scheduling crews.
      Derek, you would start crying like a baby and panic for your momma if an emergency happened on a flight you were on!

    2. Lynda Guest

      It’s actually worse. It’s dealing with the general public up close and personal in a metal tube 30,000 + feet in the air! Safety for the flight attendants themselves starts when that door closes. Not just for their passengers but for themselves as well.

  9. Susan Ahl Guest

    I am retired after nearly 50 years with a major airline (started as a flight attendant and retired as an executive). I strongly agree with the new rest requirement.

  10. HkCaGu Guest

    Is there a March DST one-hour waiver? If not, it's going to be annoying for the schedulers.

    1. Sean M. Diamond

      Schedulers work in UTC for the most part, which obviously does not ever change.

    2. derek Guest

      At most, the schedules get changed before, during, and after the March changeover. For example, Saturday's flights start 30 minutes earlier. Or just have a different schedule on that first Sunday. Compress the layover times on Sunday.

      Airlines might use UTC/GMT but the 7 am flight on Sunday is still going to be 7 am on Sunday (1200 UTC but 1100 UTC in the summer)

  11. Giuls Guest

    In EU the minimum rest period is 12h after a duty or the equal duty period worked if it exceeds the 12h. In US it seems like they are really many steps behind, despite this new rule.

    1. Sean M. Diamond

      EASA does make provision for reduced rest and discretionary extended duty periods as well though. So it isn't really a like-to-like comparison.

    2. Giselherr Guest

      In the EU the rest period in between the days is 10 hrs. This period shall include an 8-hour sleep opportunity in addition to the time for travelling and physiological needs.

  12. Tim Dunn Diamond

    It would be interesting to see what airlines currently comply with the rule already and what airlines do not. I suspect that the big 3 plus WN already do and it will be regional airlines that are least compliant which will mean yet one more cost for regional airlines which will further erode the viability of RJs.

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Tim Dunn Diamond

It would be interesting to see what airlines currently comply with the rule already and what airlines do not. I suspect that the big 3 plus WN already do and it will be regional airlines that are least compliant which will mean yet one more cost for regional airlines which will further erode the viability of RJs.

4
Susan Ahl Guest

I am retired after nearly 50 years with a major airline (started as a flight attendant and retired as an executive). I strongly agree with the new rest requirement.

3
Sean M. Diamond

Schedulers work in UTC for the most part, which obviously does not ever change.

3
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