TSA teaching airline workers to defend themselves amid increase in unruly passengers

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Friday, July 30, 2021
TSA teaching airline workers to defend themselves
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TSA defense training is returning after a long pause due to the pandemic. Flight attendants are taking the necessary training to protect themselves amid the numerous attacks we've seen in the air.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- What would you do if an airline passenger on your flight gets belligerent or attempts a terrorist attack? There is a simulation to train flight attendants and other airline employees on how to deal with potentially dangerous situations.

Emily Aguila is a flight attendant who took part in the training.

"My eyes teared up because it's such a real scenario, and it's something we have to prepare for every flight," she said.

After a long hiatus due to the pandemic, the Transportation Security Administration is once again holding these special training classes.

We've seen incidents recently of flight attendants getting attacked and passengers fighting. There are more threats than ever for these airline workers.

Jamillah Battle is also a flight attendant based in Oakland.

RELATED: Spike in air rage incidents, majority involve passengers' refusal of mask mandate

The FAA and TSA are sounding the alarm on the rise of unruly passengers during flights.

"It's more surreal to make sure that when we're in the galley, what can we grab quickly just in case something does happen," Battle said. "We need to make sure quickly that we can make something out of nothing."

Daniel Babor with the TSA says this training helps airline employees prepare for possible threats.

"Kind of to instill in them a mindset and that's to expand their awareness, situational awareness, expect the unexpected," he said.

There is a simulator, a full-size model of an airplane, where agents can prepare for any challenge. At the training, it's a one-on-one confrontation with an attacker and they have to react quickly.

Battle says it was intense.

"I'm still jittery from this situation, although I wasn't in it, it was an adrenaline rush because it can happen," she said.

For these men and women, it could be a life or death scenario.

"We want them to walk away with confidence that they win that fight," Babor said.

The airline employees hope they'll never have to use any of the training, but they know they are ready just in case to keep everyone safe.