Air Safety, Health, & Security Committee (ASHSC)
- Our AFA Air Safety, Health, & Security Committee (ASHSC) Chairpersons met on Thursday, October 5, to discuss their ongoing program of work to represent Flight Attendants’ interests related to safety, health, and security in our workplace.
- The Committee also met with management to receive updates and discuss issues and problems that Flight Attendants face onboard the aircraft.
- Reporting safety concerns is more important than ever, given the challenges we currently face as a workgroup. Flight Attendant Irregularity Reports (FAIR), Aviation Safety Action Reports (ASAP), and fatigue reports can all be filed using ReportIt! Please get in touch with a member of your Local ASHSC if you need assistance.
On Thursday, October 5, our AFA Local Air Safety, Health, & Security Committee (ASHSC) Chairpersons met to discuss their ongoing work to represent our Flight Attendants and push for improvements in our workplace. Representing you at the meeting in person were Debi Wallstrom (ANC), David Lake (SEA), Blair Kimball (PDX), Brad Young (SFO), Carin Meritt (LAX), and Eva Gatus (SAN). Also present was MEC ASHSC Chairperson Seth Heiple.
The committee met with Inflight Training Supervisor Ken Hawkins, Infight Policy & Procedure Specialist Kevin Weatherbie, Manager of Inflight Safety & Compliance Johanna Giese, Manager of Inflight Policy & Procedure Kaliko Howell, Inflight Regulatory Compliance Safety Analyst Danette Thomas, and Inflight Experience Program Manager Matthew Coder.
The next scheduled Air Safety, Health, & Security Committee meeting is Thursday, January 4, 2024.
Topics of Discussion
The committee reviewed a number of items when meeting with management. Some items discussed include:
- Definition of “Guardian.” The FAM states that no one in an exit row can be responsible for a child 15 or under elsewhere in the cabin. The Committee would like “guardian” to be better defined in FAM. Kaliko will review verbiage in the FAM and include Airport Operations & Customer Service (AOCS) and Customer Advocacy in any discussions about updating definitions or language for alignment.
- Cabin divider curtain. Flight Attendants are closing the curtain in an overhead bin, using the bin door to secure it in the open position. Kaliko will ensure the FAM reflects the current procedure for closing and securing the curtain. He will also follow up with Maintenance & Engineering to see the status of the new curtain restraints.
- D position traveling alone/4 crew pairings. This concern has been escalated to EVP and COO Constance von Muehlen—no update at this time.
- Inboard jumpseat assignment. The Committee prefers that the B and C Flight Attendants move inboard for better cabin management and visibility. Inflight Policy & Procedure would like to keep the current practice. We will keep advocating for this change.
- Issues with onboard cleaning products. Flight Attendants have reported physical reactions that they believe may be caused by exposure to onboard cleaning products. One problem is that we only sometimes have the correct bag to stow the spray bottle. It was also noted that Fleet Service may be over-spraying more product than necessary to perform cleaning tasks. Their procedure is to spray into a cloth and then use the cloth to wipe. Fleet Service Agents should not spray cleaner directly onto surfaces. In the long term, the Committee wants to replace the bottle of cleaner with surface wipes for Flight Attendant use.
- Air quality events not identified and reported as they are happening. When multiple Flight Attendant operating the same flight experience symptoms, crews and ground personnel should suspect a possible air quality or hypoxia event. Failure to identify an event can result in an inadequate operational response and a lack of support for the impacted crew. Cabin Safety Manager Heidi Stiley will see if this information can be included in Pilot and Flight Attendant training. We will also look at manuals to make sure this is called out.
- Door opening procedure from outside the aircraft. There are different understandings about who may open an aircraft door from outside. It is taught in Alaska Initial Flight Attendant Training and will be added to Recurrent Training for 2024. However, legacy Virgin America Flight Attendants never received this training. Kaliko will look at past communications to see where it was communicated that Flight Attendants are not to open the L1 door from outside and report back to the group.
- Single-door catering stations. IAD had single-door catering, and crews were delayed in boarding/pre-flight due to inability to center aisle blockage and then rushed for passenger boarding. Single-door catering can happen anywhere. ACTION: Matthew will discuss with the Catering Ops team
- Surgical masks stocked on the aircraft. With the uptick in COVID-19 infections, we would like to see more masks boarded in Flight Attendant Kits for a total of 10 each. Heidi will bring the topic to an upcoming meeting.
- SFO airport transportation. Crew Access says to “walk to hotel.” The Committee has requested that the Air Train information’s phone number be added to Crew Access. Kaliko will follow up with the Crew Hotels team.
- Weigh restriction zones. We would like for there to be a more straightforward means of knowing what the zones are on a weight-restricted aircraft. We would also like management to allow some freedom in moving passengers within the same row or zone when weight-restricted.
- Firm/rough landings. Heidi shared that the aircraft registers a hard landing at 2.2Gs and higher. Anything else is not technically a “hard” landing. Regardless of what they are called, the Committee is seeing a lot of landing-related injuries of Flight Attendants, and we have asked management to look at ways to reduce the number of injuries occurring.
- EMK/EEMK supplies. We have previously requested that a better blood pressure cuff, pulse oximeter, and glucose monitor be added to the kits. Johanna told us that the FAA may update the required contents of the EMK, and management is considering adding an assessment kit, which would include a blood pressure cuff, pulse oximeter, glucometer, and stethoscope.
What the Committee is Working On
- MAX8 galley. A representative from the ASHSC and Inflight Service Committee spent several days with management and Boeing representatives reviewing the design of the MAX8 galley at the manufacturing facility. At this stage, the Committees were able to provide feedback on galley units that have been built but have yet to be installed. Almost all of AFA’s recommended changes to the design to improve functionality and safety will be implemented in the production units, including improvements to the trash receptacles and trash volume. Unfortunately, improvements to the MAX galley bar were not deemed feasible.
- Locking lavatories. We have been working with management to determine whether we should continue locking lavatories for taxi, takeoff, and landing. Our Local ASHSC Chairpersons have mixed feelings about this proposed change. There are concerns about cabin management, with passengers potentially entering the lavatory at an inappropriate time and possibly hindering egress should a lavatory door be open during an evacuation. Positive outcomes of the change may include reducing distraction during door-disarming procedures and allowing passengers to use the lavatory in an urgent situation without a Flight Attendant needing to leave the security of their jumpseat. The Committee has asked about benchmarking and what the procedures are at other airlines. In conjunction with a change to the lavatory door locking procedure, the Committee has asked Inflight management to assess the timing and necessity of the pre-departure and pre-landing lavatory flush.
- Adding passenger briefings to cabin areas of responsibility. We already use cabin areas of responsibility for emergencies, equipment checks, and compliance checks. The Committee would like to see this include passenger briefings to remove confusion about which Flight Attendant is responsible for ensuring they are completed before door closure.
We Want to Hear From You!
If you’ve experienced a safety-related issue, please help the committee to advocate for improvement and change by filing a report. Flight Attendant Irregularity Reports (FAIR), Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP) reports, and fatigue reports can all be submitted using ReportIt! If you’re not sure what type of report to file for a particular situation or need help, please don’t hesitate to contact a member of your Local ASHSC.
Do you have other feedback for the committee or items that you’d like brought up with management? Please let us know! Your Local ASHSC is your voice to management. You can find our contact information on the ASHSC page of the AFA Alaska website.