US flight attendants will soon get a longer mandatory rest period between shifts

Flight attendants for U.S. carriers will soon be getting more rest.

The Federal Aviation Administration on Tuesday announced a final rule that will provide flight attendants with at least 10 hours of rest when they’re scheduled for a duty period of 14 hours or less. It’s an increase from the current regulation that requires at least nine hours of rest.

“Rest period increase for flight attendants corrects a historical inequity,” acting FAA administrator Billy Nolen said at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) while flanked by flight attendants from the largest U.S. airlines.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Want more airline-specific news? Sign up for TPG’s free biweekly Aviation newsletter.

He noted the move will bring attendant rules in line with those for U.S. pilots, who — in most situations — are mandated to get at least 10 hours of rest between duty periods.

Pilot rest rules were changed “essentially overnight” after the 2009 crash of Colgan Air Flight 3407 near Buffalo, New York, said Sara Nelson, the president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, the union representing flight attendants at United Airlines, Alaska Airlines and smaller carriers.

“Flight attendants were essentially left on the cutting room floor,” Nelson said at the Washington event. “We had to fight forward.”

Congress mandated the new rest rule in its 2018 FAA reauthorization law. Nelson said that the Trump administration tried to kill the rule, while the Biden administration fast-tracked it.

“[President Biden] made a promise to our union that this would be a priority of the administration,” she said.

More: A flight attendant talks about grueling schedules

House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure chairman Pete DeFazio, D-Ore. — who pushed for the rule to be included in the 2018 law — said that the action is welcome and overdue.

“After a nearly four-year delay, flight attendants — who operate in complex, dynamic and often hazardous working environments — will have the rest they need to perform their duties and enjoy a better quality of life,” DeFazio said in a statement.

The final rule will take effect just 30 days after it is formally published in the Federal Register, the government’s official journal.

The airline industry, which will be tasked with following the regulation, said that it supported the move.

“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,” Airlines for America, the industry’s lobbying arm, said in a statement. “This is why we continue to support scientifically validated and data-driven countermeasures to prevent fatigue.”