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Debate Over Cabin Temperatures Gets Heated at American Airlines

A disagreement between cabin crews and management over how hot is too hot is causing a cold war over work rules at American Airlines.

As summer heat waves take firm hold across the northern hemisphere, uncomfortably warm airplane cabins can become an issue, but when do cabin temperatures cross the line from uncomfortable to becoming a danger to passengers and crew?

American Airlines says a cabin temperature of 90 degrees Fahrenheit is the limit for safely boarding an aircraft, but those who spend the most time in the airline’s cabins, the flight attendants, say that 90 degrees is dangerously hot and should be lowered to no higher than 85 degrees. Dallas NBC affiliate KXAS reports that the dispute is heating up along with summer high temperatures.

“We’ve had reported incidents where both flight attendants and passengers have suffered serious health issues as a direct result of the cabin temperature,” said Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) spokeswoman Kelly Skyles. “We want to avoid that from happening.”

Skyles said the AFPA is researching legal remedies to require that the maximum temperature threshold is lowered.

US Airways set a maximum cabin temperature of 85 degrees, but following the merger with American, the boarding temperature limit was increased to 90 degrees.

“We don’t like to board when it’s warm, so we try to make sure the aircraft is cool before we board,” said American spokeswoman Andrea Huguely. “We don’t board if it’s hotter than 90. That’s been the standard at [Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport] for many years.”

The difference between an 85 degree cabin and a 90 degree cabin only comes into play in rare instances when a plane cannot be properly air conditioned on the ground. Neither side is claiming that either temperature limit represents an ideal situation.

In those worst case scenarios when the airline is faced with the question of whether a cabin temperature is too dangerous to board an aircraft, management and crews remain separated by a matter of five degrees.

[Photo: iStock]


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sdsearch July 7, 2015

Oh, this is only about temperature while boarding? That's nothing. Lately there has been some problem reported with AA's transcon (LAX/SFO-JFK) A321T 3-class planes being too hot throughout the whole flight! I thought this was going to be an article about that.