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20 years later, 9/11 has brought a huge impact on the way flight attendants defend passengers, flight deck

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – September 11th changed many things in America, including how we fly. That morning, the very first responders to the attacks weren’t police officers or firefighters, they were flight attendants.

Since then, the ever-growing threat in the cabin remains. In the last year alone, thousands of unruly passengers have been fined or arrested by federal authorities.

At the Federal Air Marshall Field Office in Charlotte, NC, enhanced self-defense training classes continue to arm flight crew. Not with weapons, but techniques to fight back and defend passengers in case a passenger poses a physical threat in the cabin.

Flight Attendant Courtney McDonald has been flying since 2013 and told Fox 46 that this additional training should be attended by all crew.

“We have training similar to our original new hire training. It’s something we need to focus on a little more than we do right now.”

John Montero, Assistant Air Marshal in Charge says the goal is to always attempt a verbal deescalation of situations before using physical force. He says the attacks on 9/11 motivate the instructors and crew members who attend this training.

“It’s still very raw for us, we look at things in a scenario where they can spin out of control quickly.”

Courtney McDonald says her mission in the cabin is to keep all passengers safe. She says a lot of work goes into executing positive crew resource management in the cabin when dealing with an unruly passenger. She wants to remind passengers the crew will take any and all physical steps to keep the flight deck and other passengers safe.

“There are all the people who are a potential danger, but you have to think about all the people who are potentially in danger.”

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