Flight Attendants Still Have No Answer on What's Ailing Them

Thousands of AA attendants have had bad reactions since new uniforms arrived
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 18, 2017 1:22 PM CST
Flight Attendants Still Have No Answer on What's Ailing Them
What's making AA's flight attendants sick?   (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

American Airlines flight attendants demanded a full recall of their new uniforms last month, convinced the new attire was making many of them sick—but after a slew of testing, the airline still can't definitively say what the issue is, or if the uniforms are involved at all, Bloomberg reports. AA has ponied up more than $1 million so far for toxicological tests to see why its flight attendants have been wheezing, scratching at rashes, and suffering from sore throats, itchy eyes, and dizziness since they started wearing the new garb—a mix of wool, polyester, and spandex in the blazers and pants, cotton in the shirts, per NBC News—in September. The Association of Professional Flight Attendants said in a Thursday message around 10% of its 25,000 flight attendants have reported bad reactions and that the "serious and growing problem" won't disappear unless the airline takes further action.

The workers believe there's likely a chemical in the uniform that's setting everyone off, but the airline, the union, and the uniform supplier, Twin Hill, have all commissioned experts to check out the issue, and AA and Twin Hill have come up empty in their probes. The union is still running tests (and says it wants the airline to pay it back for the $20,000 it's spent so far, plus any future expenses). The union's national president, Bob Ross, wonders if testing so far has looked at levels for separate chemicals, but has not looked into whether a problem arises when various chemicals in the uniforms mix. "Synergistically, how do they interact?" he says, per Bloomberg. Meanwhile, AA's 15,000 pilots haven't had an issue with their new Twin Hill wool outfits. (Why these flight attendants were spooked by the words "BYE BYE.")

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