Passengers Burned By Hot Coffee or Tea On Flights.

Author: Alisa Brodkowitz  |  Category: Burns


Recently several passengers have sued after flight attendants spilled coffee on passengers during separate flights. A Canadian man was asleep when coffee was spilled on his arm. When he took his shirt off, his skin came off with it.  A woman suffered burns when a different flight attendant spilled coffee on her during a flight. If you have been similarly burned, seek medical attention and consult an attorney.

Toxic fumes on planes: Can it hurt you?

Author: Alisa Brodkowitz  |  Category: Other Events



By Molly Grantham –

Reprinted From- CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) –

A veteran U.S. Airways Flight Attendant says toxic fumes are being released into planes.  Crew members are sick.  Some so sick, they’re still not back at work a year later.  WBTV investigated these claims in a months-long investigation. 

According to Association of Flight Attendants, a union which says it represents half of all flight attendants, 30 U.S. Airways aircraft on the east coast have been impacted in the past year.  Many are Charlotte-based planes. 

“I’m talking because I think passengers need to know,” said one veteran flight attendant who came forward under the condition we protected her identity.  “I felt like I had to come forward for the health of myself and my co-workers.”

We’ll call this veteran flight attendant “Jane Doe.”  Jane works and lives on the east coast.  She says sometime in the past three years she was on a plane that had toxins accidentally released. 

“Everyone smelled it,” she says.  “We communicated with our pilots and in the end everyone was treated medically.  Everyone of the crew members involved has seen some sort of medical help.”

Including her. 

“Flight attendants are talking about this more and more,” says Jane.  “We are educating ourselves.  But headaches and breathing problems – serious respiratory issues – continue to be a problem for some crew members [who have been affected].  U.S. Airways has their own doctor in which you must go see in the case of a situation that happens in your work.  But overall U.S. Airways has not been overly-supportive of what has gone on and I don’t know why.”

On the flip side, Jane says the pilot’s union has been very supportive.  Captain James Ray is the spokesman for the U.S. Airways Pilot Association and a working pilot who still flies U.S. Airways aircraft.  WBTV talked with him on-camera.

“Toxins produced from oil in the aircraft engines have caused a lot of problems with our industry,” Captain Ray said.  “Pilots and flight attendants alike have been sent to the hospital on multiple occasions.  Some remain in the hospital.  We have pilots who have lost their FAA certificate because of exposure to these toxins.  So it is certainly a concern we have.”

He said he wants passengers to speak up if they smell something.  In the same breath he doesn’t want to create mass panic.

“It isn’t a widespread issue,” he said.  “There haven’t been a lot of people who have gotten sick.  But crew members are exposed more often than your average passenger.  We’re more susceptible to problems.  As a pilot I am not only concerned about my health, I’m concerned about the health of the passengers as well.”

WBTV reported odd odors released into a U.S. Airways plane twice in 2010.  U.S. Airways confirmed both cases.  Once was on Flight 1041 on January, 2010.  U.S. Airways confirms the crew members sickened on that flight are still not back at work.  They were all transported to the hospital, but released several hours later.

The airline says no passengers on that flight reported any lingering effects.

The other case was in November of 2010.  U.S. Airways has not said whether those employees are all back at work yet or not.  U.S. Airways also says it was not toxic fumes in that case, but a ground power issue at the gate.  A spokeswoman for the airline says after the U.S. Airways maintenance team checked out the plane, it was deemed safe to fly.  

But on the night of that incident last November WBTV contacted Mecklenburg County Poison Control.  Poison Control confirmed to us it did give advice to at least one physician on how to proceed and treat a crew member.

As both “Jane” and Captain Ray will be quick to point out, this doesn’t happen on every plane.  It’s obviously not supposed to happen.  It is, they also make sure to emphasize, happening on various airlines. 

“I am proud to be a part of this company,” says Jane, “but they have dropped the ball with this issue.  They need to pick that ball back up and protect the people out there making a difference and putting themselves out there.”

U.S. Airways says it’s aware of the concerns, but that it is “confident the air quality in all of our aircraft satisfies all safety standards.”

A spokesperson also issued this statement:  “Our maintenance program for systems affecting cabin air quality met or exceed manufacturer recommendations.  We encounter various technical problems with our fleet of highly complex and sophisticated aircraft, just as all airlines do.  We track every problem, every part and every fix for every aircraft on a flight-by-flight basis and we take the safe operation of our 3,200 daily flights as our most important priority.  While these odor-related complaints are uncommon, we take them very seriously and our safety, pilot, flight attendant and maintenance teams work closely together to investigate and resolve.”

Also, the list below is from the U.S. Airline Pilots Association’s Safety Committee.  It was issued January 14th, 2011 and lists tail numbers of 30 U.S. Airways aircraft the union claims have had documented air contamination incidents.

We asked U.S. Airways about this list. 

A spokeswoman said, “The list is really not accurate.  It’s talking about ANY odor-related complaints over what could be a period of several years.  We look into any odor-related complaint and track it.  Some of these odor-related complaints could be fume-related, but to say all of these are is just not accurate.  They could be things like electrical smells, could be lavatory, could be a variety of things.  We take all complaints seriously.”

Flight crews still out after sickness: US Airways passengers might have been exposed unknowingly to toxic fumes on previous flight

Author: Alisa Brodkowitz  |  Category: Other Events




Republished from: The Charlotte Observer – McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX

Crew members from three previous flights of the US Airwaysplane that made people sick this week in Charlotte still have not returned to work because of illness related to those flights.


Researchers say passengers on those previous flights might have unknowingly been exposed to toxic fumes, and symptoms might not show up for days or weeks.

Eight pilots and crew members on flights in December and January have not returned to work due to their symptoms, a flight attendant union representative said Wednesday.

“They’re all breathing in the same air,” said Judith Murawski, a safety researcher for the Association of Flight Attendants. “There’s no question that passengers might be affected, and they just have no idea.”

U.S. Airways spokeswoman Michelle Mohr said Wednesday that passengers on at least one of the previous flights — Flight 1041 from St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, to Charlotte on Jan. 16 — were notified of possible exposure.

The plane involved in all four incidents, a Boeing 767, caused nine people to be taken to Carolinas Medical Center on Tuesday morning after they complained of symptoms consistent with exposure to toxic fumes. Two pilots, five flight attendants and two passengers were taken from Flight 985, which was scheduled to leave for Jamaica but returned to the gate after an electrical smell was reported in the cabin.

US Airways mechanics determined Wednesday that two bad seals on a rear door of the plane — tail No. 0251 — caused the problem, said Kathleen Bergen, spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration’s southern office in Atlanta.

“The bad seals, combined with a strong tailwind, allowed engine exhaust into the plane,” said Bergen.

Mohr said the seals probably would have performed properly when the cabin became pressurized. She said the airline will not clear the plane for flights until it conducts a “deeper review,” given the plane’s recent history of problems.

The incident is the aircraft’s fourth in three months. On Dec. 28 and 30, crew members were sickened from a leak of hydraulic fluid on flights to Puerto Rico, Mohr said. No one was taken to a hospital then.

The plane was cleared for flight in early January, but on Jan. 16, eight passengers and seven crew members complained of headaches and nausea on a flight to Charlotte from St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands. Several were taken to a hospital in Charlotte. The plane was grounded while workers searched for and repaired what the company described in an e-mail to flight attendants as a leak of oil fumes into the cabin air system.

Crew members from each of those three flights remain out of work — including all but one of the seven crew members from the Jan. 16 incident, said Murawski. Crew members, including one based in Charlotte, are complaining of several symptoms consistent with exposure to toxic fumes, said Murawski, who remains in regular contact. Those symptoms, which have not improved for some, include severe headaches, memory loss and respiratory problems.

Crew members also have sent blood samples to Clem Furlong, a University of Washington scientist who is doing research to determine if they were exposed to toxic engine oil fumes. Factors such as diet and medications may explain why some people are more vulnerable to toxin exposure, Furlong said, but passengers would be susceptible to exposure.

If passengers experience similar symptoms, Furlong said, they should let their doctor know they may have been exposed to potentially toxic fumes.

On the Jan. 16 flights, attendants noticed that passengers asked for more icepacks and tissues than usual on the flight from Charlotte to St. Thomas, said Murawski. Those passengers were not notified of the possibility of exposure to toxic fumes, said Mohr. The complaints about headaches and nausea happened on the return flight.

Murawski said problems involving oil fumes in planes are more common across the industry than people think. She researched 18 months of FAA reports this decade and found almost one report per day of incidents involving oil fumes and odors.

“When pilots are exposed to these fumes, there’s a flight safety issue,” she said.

The FAA could not immediately provide statistics Wednesday on how frequently fumes are reported on aircraft.

The issue of fumes prompted union complaints last fall to US Airways — as well as a February letter from the leaders of pilot and flight attendant unions complaining about problems on aircraft No. 0251. The letter, which called for a formal investigation into the incidents, said that crew members had gone through a “great deal of suffering,” and “There is no way of knowing how many passengers who flew on AC251 during that period are also experiencing neurological or respiratory symptoms, but have not yet connected their symptoms to the aircraft.”

A union representative in Charlotte was skeptical Wednesday that the US Airways diagnosis of rear seal problems in Tuesday’s incident would solve the issues.

“I’m not saying they’re lying, or that didn’t happen,” said Mike Flores, an official with the US Airways chapter of the flight attendants union. “But I’m not a believer that this plane is fit to fly.”

Flores said crew members might refuse to fly on the plane.

“This airplane has had four separate incidents, and crew members are still out of work,” he said. “What are we waiting for, a fifth?” Staff Writer Steve Lyttle contributed.

To see more of The Charlotte Observer, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to

Alaska Airlines flight attendants file claim over air-turbulence injuries

Author: Alisa Brodkowitz  |  Category: Turbulence


Published by Seattle Times staff reporter

Two Alaska Airlines flight attendants who were injured when a 2007 flight from Seattle to California encountered turbulent air have filed a legal claim against a national weather-forecasting service and against the U.S. government.

Donna Dacko and Inga Isakson were working on the flight to Ontario, Calif., on Dec. 25, 2007, when the aircraft hit “previously unreported severe turbulence” before landing, according to the claim filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Seattle.

Isakson slammed her head against a metal chair arm and on a metal frame beneath a passenger seat, according to the claim. It says she lost consciousness, that a pool of blood surrounded her head and she was seen “frothing at the mouth.”

Dacko hit her head on the ceiling of the aircraft and was thrown for at least six rows of seats, landing on Isakson, the claim said.

The claim is a precursor to a lawsuit.

Both women were hospitalized in California. Dacko has undergone several surgeries and remains injured, the claim said.

Dacko and Isakson, in their claim, say that Weather Service International (WSI) was negligent in forecasting the weather. The women were not made aware of any “hazardous weather” forecast for the flight route, the claim said.

They also named the U.S. government in the claim because, they contend, the Federal Aviation Administration’s Office of Air Traffic Organization should have warned them about the severe weather.

“These injuries were entirely preventable,” said aviation attorney Alisa Brodkowitz, who is representing both women. “No one, neither the crew nor the passengers, should have experienced this horrific event.”

The claim was filed now because of an apparent statute of limitations that expires Dec. 25, Brodkowitz said.

A spokeswoman for WSI, based in Massachusetts, declined to comment on the case Friday. Emily Langlie, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, also declined to comment.

Marianne Lindsey, a spokeswoman for Alaska Airlines, said the company was not aware of the legal claim.

Aviation expert John Nance said he has never heard of a case similar to this.

“For a suit like this to be successful they are going to have to show the defendants, the FAA in particular, had evidence of turbulence and had a duty to transmit it to the crew and didn’t do that,” said Nance, who is a lawyer and a former pilot for Alaska Airlines. “That’s a steep mountain to climb.”

WSI provides weather reports for several airlines, national media, electrical utilities and package-delivery companies, according to the company’s Web site.

“WSI delivers forecasts that are precise in time, location and intensity — using proprietary algorithms to detect severe weather as it occurs and operating a proprietary high resolution precision forecast system,” the company’s Web site said.

The two women are seeking to have WSI pay them for medical expenses, pain and suffering, emotional distress and lost wages, the claim said.


the rest here:

Former flight attendants sue Airbus over “bleed air”

Author: Alisa Brodkowitz  |  Category: Other Events


by aubrey cohan, seattle PI blog

Two former flight attendants are suing Airbus, alleging that toxic “bleed air” from aircraft engines caused serious permanent injuries.

According to the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Broward County, Fla.:

Lucy Mayorga and Adriana Moravcik of New York suffered inhalation injuries on Oct. 8, 2005, aboard a U.S. Airways Airbus A319-112 aircraft. Upon takeoff, they noticed a strange chemical smell, followed by their eyes watering, their throats tightening and debilitating symptoms, including headache, upper respiratory irritation and difficulty breathing.

They were later diagnosed with breathing injuries, and their symptoms continued to worsen until they had to give up their jobs.

The lawsuit goes on to allege that defective design allows toxic chemicals from engine oil and hydraulic lubrication products to contaminate air drawn in to the cabin through the engines.

“The problem of toxic ‘bleed air’ on airplanes has been known to the airline industry since the 1950s,” Alisa Brodkowitz, a Seattle lawyer representing the plaintiffs, said in a news release. “The aircraft manufacturers have turned a blind eye to this problem and failed to equip their planes with sensors or filters to keep toxic chemicals out of the cabin. The only things filtering this stuff out of the cabin are the lungs of passengers and crew members.”

Brodkowitz also represents Former flight attendant Terry Williams, who sued plane maker Boeing and subsidiary McDonnell Douglas this summer, alleging that bleed air fumes sickened her aboard an American Airlines MD-82 airliner in 2007, eventually causing symptoms so intense that she could no longer work.

In August, CNN reported that a team at the University of Washington was finalizing a blood test to confirm whether 92 people who suspect they’ve been poisoned by toxic fumes in airplanes actually were.

A 2002 National Research Council report (free summary) said:

Problems arise when engine lubricating oils, hydraulic fluids, or deicing fluids unintentionally enter the cabin through the air-supply system from the engines in what is called bleed air. Many cabin crews and passengers have reported incidents of smoke or odors in the cabin. No exposure data are available to identify the contaminants in cabin air during air-quality incidents, but laboratory studies suggest that many compounds are released when the fluids mentioned above are heated to the high temperatures that occur in the bleed-air system.

The 787 Dreamliner will not use bleed air in the cabin — because of fuel efficiency, not health concerns, according to Boeing.



Flight attendant unsure of return

Author: Alisa Brodkowitz  |  Category: Other Events



Sep 29, 2009 (The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review – McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX)


— A Beaver County flight attendant aboard US Airways Flight 1549 hasn’t returned to work or made any plans to. Doreen Welsh of Economy, who suffered a deep cut on her left leg during the flight’s emergency splash landing and evacuation, said she is recovering physically and emotionally. She said it hurts to be on her feet for extended periods of time, a necessity for a flight attendant.

“I’m not putting any timetable on it,” Welsh, 59, said about a potential return to her job of nearly 40 years.


Airline’s breastfeeding bungle

Author: Alisa Brodkowitz  |  Category: Discrimination




A MELBOURNE mother says she was left in tears after a Tiger Airways flight attendant repeatedly asked her to hide her breastfeeding baby from other passengers on a flight earlier this month.

Kathryn Ward said she was feeding her three-month-old son, James, on a flight between the Gold Coast and Melbourne when a crew member asked her if she had a blanket to cover him.

”I didn’t say anything because at the same time she asked me she saw a padded insert underneath him and put it on top of him without asking my permission,” Mrs Ward said. ”She said, ‘I know it’s natural, but some people may not like to see it.’ ”

Mrs Ward said she told the attendant that she had a right to breastfeed, but was asked again to cover her baby because a man seated near her ”might not like to see it”.

”I said to [the man], ‘Does this offend you?’ and he said, ‘No, not at all.’ [The flight attendant] said, ‘Well, people walking down the aisle might not like it.’ ”

The mother of two said she felt embarrassed and humiliated after the incident.

A spokeswoman for Tiger Airways said the airline had reviewed the incident and planned to apologise to Mrs Ward for the error. The flight attendant had been disciplined and informed of a new policy as a result of the complaint. ”All relevant staff will undergo training immediately to ensure this situation does not occur again.”

Victorian Equal Opportunity & Human Rights Commission chief executive Helen Szoke said six formal complaints had been received about discrimination over breastfeeding last financial year, although ”that’s just the tip of the iceberg”. She said the law protected women breastfeeding in public, including at work, in shops and on public transport.