A flight attendant says she was too exhausted to report a passenger who shoved her when a flight was overbooked

flight attendant mask covid
The number of unruly passengers is on the rise, and flight attendants say they're feeling exhausted. Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
  • A flight attendant told The New York Times she was too exhausted to report a passenger who shoved her.

  • The passenger was upset about not boarding an overbooked flight, the attendant, Nas Lewis, said.

  • Attendants are "at our wits' end," and airlines are understaffed, she said.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

A flight attendant told The New York Times she was shoved by a passenger in May - but felt too exhausted to report the incident.

Nas Lewis, a flight attendant based in Chicago, told The Times that the passenger had become upset about an overbooked flight.

Lewis said she didn't report being pushed because she was too worn out. "As flight attendants, we are at our wits' end," Lewis said. She withheld her airline's name because of its media policy, The Times reported.

Lewis, the founder of ThAIRapy, an organization that advocates for flight attendants' mental health, told The Times that a shortage of staff in the airline industry was making attendants anxious.

"There's not enough people," she said, adding that staffers "don't know what we're going to deal with on any given day."

The Times said it interviewed more than a dozen flight attendants from major airlines who described feeling exhausted, overworked, and scared for their safety.

Read more: United, Delta, and American Airlines need pilots so badly, they're making it easier than ever for newbies to land top flying jobs

Reports of unruly passengers are on the rise. The Federal Aviation Administration has reported almost 4,000 incidents since the start of the year, its website says. The agency said it opened 693 investigations during this period, compared with 146 in 2019.

Most incidents involved passengers refusing to wear a mask, the FAA said.

On Tuesday, the agency released a public-service announcement warning against unruly behavior. The video featured sounds of passengers screaming and shouting.

One JetBlue passenger was fined $45,000 for putting his head up a flight attendant's skirt, the FAA said earlier in August. The police in Florida recently arrested a man accused of hitting a flight attendant when he was asked to wear a face mask.

Some airlines, including American and Frontier, have resorted to using duct tape to restrain passengers.

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