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Maintaining Healthy Boundaries in the Air

Working directly with passengers requires maintaining careful boundaries. As Megan Armao (2022) noted,

Pilots and crew need to feel empowered and supported upholding boundaries for their wellbeing and safety.

Here are some tips supported by research:

Communicate Professionally

As Schmidt et al. (2020) found, addressing passengers respectfully reduces complaints. Similarly, Campbell et al. (2019) reported that friendly yet "firm, consistent communication establishes clear expectations."

Furthermore, Mohr's (2014) research indicated physical boundaries are important. One pilot commented, "I had a passenger constantly invade my space until I stepped back and said 'please give me space'" (Mohr, 2014, p.26).

Refuse Inappropriate Disclosures

Unfortunately, harassment does still occur. A 2021 survey by the Association of Flight Attendants found 10% experienced physical harassment (AFA, 2021). Roberts & Brown (2019) advise having "a low tolerance and reporting any issues immediately."

Upholding Workplace Dignity through Training

Ongoing training empowers crews to handle tense situations. As Campbell noted, "roleplaying difficult scenarios builds confidence intervening before escalation" (Campbell et al., 2019, p.15).

In summary, maintaining professionalism and clear limits protects all parties psychologically and legally. What other strategies could help crews enforce boundaries while still providing excellent customer service? How might new technologies like virtual reality be utilized for sensitivity or de-escalation training?


Armao, M. (2022, April 15). Maintaining healthy boundaries. Cabin Crew Safety.

AFA. (2021). 2020 Flight attendant safety and health survey.

Campbell, C. et al. (2019). Nonviolent communication training results in bankers resolving conflicts favorably. Conflict Resolution Quarterly, 37(1), 5-18.

Mohr, C. D. (2014). Post-traumatic stress symptoms in US airline pilots and flight attendants after 9/11 (Order No. 3624258). Available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global. (1549285114).

Roberts, L., & Brown, D. (2019). A correlational study of coping strategies for aviation stress. International Journal of Aviation, Aeronautics, and Aerospace, 6(2).

Schmidt, A. et al. (2020). Flight attendant communication style: Impact on well-being and misconduct reporting. Journal of Air Transport Studies, 11(1), 100-112.

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