Flight Attendant Duty Time
Flight attendant duty time regulations in the United States first came into existence in 1994, which brought an end to excessively long duty days for flight attendants. I know it all too well. When I first started working as a flight attendant in 1991, duty time regulations didn’t exist. The airline I worked for, Tower Air, the shortest duty day was 12 hours, JFK – MIA, sit for at least 4 hours, then MIA – JFK. Many days were very close to 16 hours, and when we had charter flights, they could be incredibly long! My longest duty “day” lasted for 5 days. Yes, you read that right, it lasted for FIVE DAYS without proper rest. Back then, the minimum rest required was 12 hours, implemented by the airline. While the money earned was fantastic, the body took a beating and we were incredibly exhausted.
Thankfully, there are duty time requirements for flight attendants to prevent flight attendants from being completely fatigued, under normal conditions. This does not account for the personal behaviors of flight attendants prior to the start of their duty or the amount of rest they had available to them but did not take. Flight attendants need to know their work and rest rules, when an extension of duty is legal, and when it is not. Generally, crew scheduling is aware of the need to maintain duty time requirements and they do so. Generally. There may be instances where they don’t do it correctly, and at that time is when flight attendants should bring to the attention of crew scheduling that they *believe* they are not legal to fly. Let crew scheduling assess the schedule and they will take corrective action as necessary. When in doubt, you can always check with your lead flight attendant or PIC to help determine if you are legal or not to fly.