Bloomberg Law
Aug. 1, 2018, 3:03 PM

Is It Hot in Here? Airline Workers Urge Temperature Control

Jaclyn Diaz
Jaclyn Diaz

Recently suffer through a stifling cross-country flight? Like everything these days, there’s an app that aims to solve that.

Flight attendant unions are petitioning the government to establish temperature regulations on commercial aircraft. To that end, the Association of Flight Attendants created an app called 2Hot2Cold. It launched publicly Aug. 1.

The app allows flight attendants and passengers to report extreme temperatures while on board. To accurately register those temperatures, the unions are also providing attendants with thousands of small thermostats.

The data collected from the app will be presented to the Transportation Department to support the claim that federal standards are needed, Sara Nelson, president of the AFA, said.

“Any time of the year you can experience extreme temperatures” and that is exacerbated when airlines are cutting costs on seat space and air cooling, Nelson said. “The reason this is not taken seriously is because there are no rules on the books today with FAA or DOT.”

A spokeswoman for the DOT said the agency received the petition seeking rulemaking and is reviewing it. The DOT didn’t respond to Bloomberg Law’s additional questions on the topic.

Some current policies address the need to keep passengers comfortable in-flight, but they focus on tarmac delays, which could contribute to extreme cabin temperatures.

Keep It at 65 Degrees

The union asks that the “target range” for temperatures be set at between 65 and 75 degrees and that the maximum in most situations be 80 degrees.

The Federal Aviation Administration has a voluntary, confidential system for reporting flight safety concerns. Unbearable heat is regularly a problem for flight crew, reports collected through that system show.

“Flight attendants can suffer from heat exhaustion which adds to fatigue, which is something attendants can already suffer from,” Lyn Montgomery, president of the Transportation Workers of America Union Local 556, said.

As a result of the heat and sometimes cold, attendants have reported angry or sick passengers, an attendant fainting, and people needing to be hospitalized because of heat exhaustion, the reports show.

Extreme temperatures can also raise security concerns, Nelson said. That includes incidents of “air rage” between passengers and attendants becoming lethargic and therefore taking longer to respond to issues that may arise.

“This is a safety issue through and through. We’ve had enough of it,” she said.

Airlines for America, a U.S.-based trade association and lobbying firm representing major airlines, said it hasn’t seen the 2Hot2Cold app and can’t speculate on possible future regulations.

“Generally speaking, U.S. airlines work hard to maintain a level of comfort passengers expect on each and every flight,” a spokeswoman said. “When inflight, cabin crew work together with pilots to request a warming or cooling of the aircraft in accordance with individual company procedures.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Jaclyn Diaz in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peggy Aulino at