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Don’t mess with airline crew members who graduate TSA’s self-defense class

Last week we joined a group of airline crew members for a four-hour self-defense class taught by the Transportation Security Administration’s Federal Air Marshals.

TSA has been offering these classes since at least 2015 but put the courses on hold during the height of the pandemic. Now, given the uptick in unruly passengers and the viciousness some passengers have been unleashing on flight attendants, TSA has brought the classes back. Since June, more than 50 free classes have been held around the country.

You can read our story about what goes on in these classes on The Point Guy site, but we wanted to share some bonus photos and observations here too.

The courses are available in two dozen cities to any active crewmember working for a domestic airline. While the courses are free, those taking the courses must do so on their own time. Airlines offer some self-defense training as part of their training, but some flight attendants we spoke with would like the more advanced TSA self-defense course to be on paid time.

While there are Federal Air Marshals on many domestic flights, they are not on all of them. And, air marshal presence or not, flight attendants are the ones who must first deal with unruly and aggressive passengers. Some flight attendants told us they signed up for the self-defense class because they wanted new tools to deal with the behavior they’ve been witnessing, hearing about, and could soon be coming their way.

Flight attendants don’t just feel vulnerable in the air. Some crew members we spoke with during the self-defense class said they also wanted to be prepared to defend themselves when on the ground. We heard about flight attendants who worry about being attacked in hotel hallways and while walking through parking garages or waiting for shuttle vans.

The crewmembers in the TSA self-defense class we observed learned basic self-defense skills using their personal weapons: fists, palms, the edge of their hands, forearms, elbows, legs, feet, and knees. And, after four hours, they were pretty good at, and confident about, using these skills, if necessary.

As more airline crew members get the TSA training and go on to take more advanced self-defense courses on their own, we hope word gets around that it is a bad idea to try to tangle with an airline crew member. Especially one who has graduated from the TSA’s self-defense course.

Celebrities welcome you to Miami Int’l Airport

Here’s another sign that the world of travel is moving back towards normal:

Miami International Airport (MIA) is bringing back celebrity welcome messages to its public address system.

The Voices of MIA program launched in 2019 and featured the voices of local celebrities including Miami Heat stars Alonzo Mourning and Udonis Haslem, celebrity chef Adrianne Calvo, Grammy-winning producer Emilio Estefan and telenovela star Jencarlos Canela.

The refreshed 2021 series of celebrity welcome messages includes rapper and singer Flo Rida; actor, singer and composer Carlos Ponce; celebrity chef Michelle Bernstein; rapper and TV personality Trina; and celebrity chef and TV personality Chef Pepín. Listen for the messages on MIA’s address system around the clock on a rotating basis.

And if you’re traveling through Miami International Airport, or have friends or family meeting you there or dropping you off, keep in mind this is one of the airports hosting a free COVID-19 vaccination site through July 31.

MIA’s Military Hospitality Lounge recently reopened as well.

Fresh art at Miami Int’l Airport

Brian Reedy, UFO over Bombay, 2020

UFOs have been in the news lately. So we are pleased to see a piece of art featuring a UFO included in a new exhibition at Miami International Airport.

Key West and Other Unusual Places includes printed works by Miami-based visual artists and printmakers Brian Reedy and Tom Virgin.

Reedy has a fascination with the supernatural and Asian architecture. So the work above, UFO over Bombay, makes sense.

Tom Virgin’s work reflects his travels across the United States.

Tom Virgin, Big Shark (from Escape Series), 

The exhibit will be on display in the The Eye Has to Travel Gallery near Gate D29 until October, 2021.

Airports mark National Selfie Day, Pride Month, and a magical painting

Sharing some of the Tweets airports shared on Monday about National Selfie Day, about short films to watch to celebrate Pride Month, and about the return of a magical painting.

Giveaways for Southwest Airlines’ 50th Anniversary

June 18 marks 50 years since Southwest Airlines flew its first commercial flight and to celebrate the airline is giving away prizes through June 18 and celebrating all month long.

The Southwest Airlines Sweepstakes

Through June 18, anyone can enter the sweepstakes here for a chance to win prizes that include 50, 100, 250, 500, 1000, or 50,000 Rapid Rewards bonus points.

We’ve been entering everyday, but so far we’re not a winner.

Be sure to enter the sweepstakes on June 18. That’s the day Southwest has dubbed “Wanna Get Away Day,” when the prizes – and the number of prizes awarded – balloon considerably.

On that day, you could win up to a million rapid rewards points, a $500 Southwest Airlines gift card, and a Companion Pass that lets you take someone with you every time you fly on Southwest Airlines.

The Party Goes On All Month

In addition to the sweepstakes, Southwest Airlines is hosting pop-up photo opportunities in 24 airport gate areas and rolling out Heart Carts full of swag and giveaways in more than 40 of its locations.

Southwest Airlines fans who want to celebrate with some swag can shop the Southwest Airlines online store for retro merchandise that includes a Retro Build-A-Bear wearing the airline’s original hotpants uniform.