FAA extends rest periods for flight attendants


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The Federal Aviation Administration issued a final rule on Tuesday that will increase the required rest period for flight attendants from 10 consecutive hours.

"Flight attendants, like all essential transportation workers, work hard every day to keep the traveling public safe, and we owe them our full support," Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement. "This new rule will make it easier for flight attendants to do their jobs, which in turn will keep all of us safe in the air."

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Flight attendants serve refreshments on a Delta Air Lines flight from Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport on Monday, Aug. 1, 2022 in Atlanta, GA.  (Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images) | Getty Images

The FAA took public comments on the extra rest requirement in 2019 and 2021 and received more than 1,000 comments from airlines, flight attendants and the public. The final rule will become effective 30 days after publication in the Federal Register and airlines will have 90 days from the publication to comply.


The final rule marks a victory for the Association of Flight Attendants, which has fought for years for a longer break between shifts. The trade group represents nearly 50,000 flight attendants at 19 airlines.

In 2018, Congress directed the FAA to increase the minimum rest requirement for flight attendants with scheduled duty of 14 hours or less and eliminate a provision that permitted rest to be reduced in certain circumstances. Under current federal rules, flight attendants receive rest periods of nine consecutive hours.

"It took us way too long, but we are finally here," acting FAA Administrator Billy Nolen said at a news conference at Reagan Washington National Airport, where he was flanked by more than a dozen flight attendants and Sara Nelson, the president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA.

"We won’t forget how we achieved this major regulatory change for minimum rest," Nelson said in a statement. "Flight Attendants need this rest to do our jobs. But ‘rest assured,’ we won’t ever rest in our work to ensure the continued safest transportation system in the world for all of the people within it."


The move comes as flight crews have been dealing with an uptick in unruly passengers since the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic. Airlines have reported fewer incidents since the federal requirement to wear face masks on flights ended in April.

As of Sept. 20, the FAA reported 1,973 reports of unruly passengers year to date. The agency has initiated 680 related investigations and 468 enforcement action cases. 

Airlines for America, a trade group representing the largest U.S. airlines, said safety is always the industry's top priority, and "having rested and alert flight attendants who are prepared to carry out their responsibilities, including cabin safety and other duties, is critical to this goal." The group said it supports "scientifically validated and data-driven countermeasures to prevent fatigue."

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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