Flight Attendants Call For A Halt To All Leisure Travel

by Shelli Stein

Ground all leisure flights. That’s what should happen next, according to the head of the powerful flight attendants union. Sara Nelson, the leader of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA-CWA), said “a halt to all leisure travel” is needed to protect airline workers from the coronavirus. The AFA-CWA is the country’s largest union, representing 20 airlines and 50,000 members.

What Exactly Would a Halt to All Leisure Travel Accomplish?

In a recent Huffington Post story, Nelson said that more than 100 flight attendants have tested positive for the virus, and one person has died. Nelson stated that close to 1,000 flight attendants were in self-quarantine.

Nelson and other union representatives want government agencies to support a ban on leisure travel as “hot spots” around the country struggle to test and treat those affected by COVID-19. As we might imagine, flight attendants are particularly vulnerable because they are in close contact with passengers, some of whom could be spreading the virus.

flight attendants call for a halt to all leisure travelPhoto credit: Yuri Smityuk via Getty Images

Adding to the problem, some airlines are having trouble keeping up with demand for protective equipment and supplies. “We’ve had personal protective equipment issues and supply chain issues, where our airlines are actually not able to get the supplies to get on our planes,” Nelson said.

In addition to flight attendants, other Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) employees are also testing positive, including air traffic controllers. Paul Rinaldi, president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, said, “Unfortunately as they’re going to work they are being exposed.”

In addition, more than 50 pilots have been stood down because of exposure to crew testing positive for COVID-19.

Both airline personnel and travelers are frustrated. By now we’re all well aware that the pandemic has led to a sharp drop in demand for air travel, resulting in airline industry layoffs. And for travelers who still need to fly, they are facing cancelled flights and the offer to exchange their tickets for travel at a later date.

While the proposed airline bailout package requires airlines to provide ‘essential’ domestic flights, the AFA-CWA claims that a more severe halt to leisure travel is essential.

Final Thoughts

Nelson didn’t define “leisure travel” so maybe we need to define that for ourselves. As Nelson said, “In air travel, it’s impossible to social distance.” I can only think by now many, if not all of us, have already put a halt to our leisure travel. I know I sure have. Do you take issue with the flight attendants call to halt all leisure travel?

Click here for all the latest coronavirus updates and policies by airline and hotel, travel insurance, stimulus payment, and expert advice posts


The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Related Articles


Pete April 7, 2020 - 12:47 pm

Easy to say, but what is “leisure travel?”
Visiting sick family is not business but is pretty darn essential. Given that schedules have been already pared down significantly and loads are minimal, social distancing on flights is very achievable.

Let’s not forget, would the flight attendants union accept halting all flights in exchange for unpaid furloughs? I thought so…

Shelli April 7, 2020 - 1:00 pm

You make valid points, Pete. As you suggest, we as travelers have to decide the finer points in the definition of “leisure travel.” Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.

Ben April 7, 2020 - 1:55 pm

“Ground all leisure flights. That’s what should happen next, according to the head of the powerful flight attendants union.”

According to the article, the union head is saying there should be bulletins urging the public to stop flying for leisure. Where does she say they need to actually ground leisure flights, and how would that actually work?

Shelli April 7, 2020 - 2:05 pm

Thanks for your question Ben. It’s a good one. This quote is from a call organized by the AFL-CIO and comes directly from Sara Nelson. As to how that would actually work, I don’t know. Maybe we’ll learn more about what that means in the days ahead.

Dean April 7, 2020 - 3:09 pm

I’m flying for fun almost weekly. All over the USA, and back out internationally in June.

Don’t airlines need money?
I’ll just spend my money with airlines that want it, not ones that have unions that try to tell society what to do. Not interested in that.

Christian April 7, 2020 - 4:49 pm

One big problem is that the definition of leisure travel is subjective. I’m sure we can all think of some borderline circumstances, and some people tend to think that their borderline situation is just fine for them to travel. That doesn’t even begin to cover the fact that this would be voluntary. In most societies – certainly ours – working through suggestion is pretty ineffective. Picture a suggested speed limit or emotional support animals a year ago. Rules that are voluntary become guidelines. Even with rules, you’re still going to find people who feel exempted, so without a powerful enforcement mechanism this just won’t work.

Shelli April 7, 2020 - 6:07 pm

As usual, Christian, your comment is well thought out and expressed. Thanks for reading and adding to the conversation.

James Barry April 9, 2020 - 2:01 am

Nelson and other union representatives want government agencies to support a ban on leisure travel as “hot spots” … so okey WANT … but how it should be organized??

Shelli April 9, 2020 - 12:39 pm

That’s the part we’re all confused about. No answers yet. Thanks for reading, James.


Leave a Comment