The primary motive for the presence of flight attendants on commercial airlines flying out of Chicago and elsewhere is safety. The U.S Federal Aviation Administration enforces this requirement. Consequently, after pilots notify flight attendants of impending turbulence, their first response may be to inspect whether passengers are seated and wearing seatbelts. In addition to their safety mandate, flight attendants represent the commercial interests of their employers. In this capacity, they serve food and beverages, as well as performing other duties designed to improve the passenger experience.

As a Chicago workers’ compensation attorney would be aware, the problem with both the safety and commercial duties of flight attendants is the need for them to be on their feet. If they are walking through the cabin, inspecting seatbelt compliance, they are vulnerable to a turbulence injury. Even when warned of impending turbulence, if they are in the middle of serving food from a heavy cart, it could take several minutes to return to their seats.

Inability to anticipate

One of the challenges for flight attendants during periods of turbulence is the inability to predict some waves of turbulence. Airline technology enables cockpit radars to detect and, therefore, anticipate some storms ahead. In these cases, pilots will typically notify flight attendants and advise them to take their seats as soon as is practical. However, in other cases, pilots may be unable to warn flight attendants who are busy serving passengers. In these cases, flight attendants may be left exposed to the threat of personal injury, as a Chicago workers’ compensation attorney often knows.

Statistics reveal vulnerability

FAA data shows a higher rate of turbulence injuries to flight attendants over the past five years. Data from 2009 to 2013 shows an annual average of 19 crew injuries due to turbulence. The high during those years was 25 (in 2010) and the low was 13 (in 2013). The annual average from the previous five years was 14 crew injuries due to turbulence.

A telling statistic of the risk of injury to which flight attendants are exposed during turbulence is in the form of a ratio. As frequent flyers can attest, the number of passengers on a given flight typically overwhelms the number of flight attendants. However, according to FAA data, over the past decade more flight attendants were injured due to turbulence (168) than passengers (153).

Flight attendants who are injured due to turbulence or otherwise during the course of employment may be eligible for workers’ compensation. Given the nuances associated with this process, injured workers may wish to consult with a Chicago workers’ compensation attorney.