Flight at­ten­dants will carry ther­mome­ters to fight hot cab­ins

The Charlotte Observer (Sunday) - - Obituaries - BY CONOR SHINE The Dal­las Morn­ing News

in fight against high cabin tem­per­a­tures

In June 2017, a 4month-old baby was rushed to the hos­pi­tal suf­fer­ing from heat-re­lated symp­toms af­ter more than two hours aboard an in­creas­ingly hot United Air­lines plane on the tar­mac at Den­ver In­ter­na­tional Air­port.

The child re­cov­ered, but the in­ci­dent showed how some­times ex­treme tem­per­a­tures that can over­take an air­craft on a hot sum­mer day, cre­at­ing a cabin en­vi­ron­ment that can run from un­com­fort­able to po­ten­tially un­safe.

“To­day there are no (fed­eral) tem­per­a­ture stan­dards that ex­ist. Of­ten­times, in a list of safety re­quire­ments, this be­comes the last pri­or­ity,” said Sara Nel­son, in­ter­na­tional pres­i­dent of the As­so­ci­a­tion of Flight At­ten­dants-CWA, which rep­re­sents about 50,000 flight at­ten­dants work­ing for 20 dif­fer­ent air­lines. “Even when air­lines have their own in­ter­nal poli­cies about heat­ing and cool­ing air­craft … there’s not go­ing to be a full solution here un­til there’s a stan­dard that ev­ery­one will have to meet.”

Start­ing this month, thou­sands of flight at­ten­dants at air­lines around the coun­try will carry ther­mome­ters to doc­u­ment ex­treme tem­per­a­tures, whether hot or cold, en­coun­tered dur­ing their shifts.

The data col­lected will be used to fur­ther bol­ster the push by two of the in­dus­try’s largest flight at­ten­dant unions to get the fed­eral gov­ern­ment to es­tab­lish stan­dards in place cabin tem­per­a­tures, with a rec­om­mended range of 65 to 75 de­grees Fahren­heit.

Such rules could make tem­per­a­ture checks part of the stan­dard pre­flight checklist, with pas­sen­gers pre­vented from board­ing planes un­less the proper con­di­tions are met.

Last week, the AFA and Trans­port Work­ers Union Lo­cal 556, which rep­re­sents South­west flight at­ten­dants, an­nounced a smart­phone app that flight crews and pas­sen­gers can use to doc­u­ment ex­treme tem­per­a­tures.

Air­lines have a num­ber of tools to keep air­craft cool while on the ground, in­clud­ing aux­il­iary power units that drive the plane’s air con­di­tion­ing sys­tems and the use of pre­con­di­tioned air pumped onto the plane.

Amer­i­can Air­lines said it won’t board an air­craft if the cabin tem­per­a­ture is above 90 de­grees, and while South­west doesn’t have a set limit, a spokesman said em­ploy­ees are em­pow­ered to de­cide whether the tem­per­a­ture is ac­cept­able for board­ing.

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