Boeing Poisons Flight Attendants


Stephanie McMillan

Skewed News — Flight attendants for Alaska Air have filed a lawsuit against Boeing for allowing toxic air into the cabins of the airplanes it manufactures.

According to the complaint, the air used to maintain cabin pressure gets sucked into the planes through the engines. When the air is exposed to heated engine oil, it becomes toxic. (That means if you travel on one of their planes, you’re breathing that shit too).

“By reason of Boeing’s design decisions, the environmental control system on the subject aircraft lacked filters which would have purified the cabin air and prevented the subject flight attendant crew from being exposed to toxic fumes,” the lawsuit says.

Any of several design changes could help fix the problem, including air filters, better pressure bearing seals to prevent leaks, or separate air compressors that don’t route cabin air through the engine. We know that Boeing can avoid contamination if they want to, because they already have! They designed a “bleedless” air system for their 787 Dreamliner, even bragging on their own self-propaganda website about how that particular model provides “cleaner, healthier air.”

Whatever extra costs might be incurred from ensuring the cabin air in the rest of their planes isn’t poisonous, Boeing has determined, in the cold rational wisdom of the marketplace, that the health and lives of most of their airplanes’ crew and passengers are worth less than that whatever that amount is.

How much would it cost to add these simple safety features to all the planes? Well, it can’t possibly cost more than $90.8 billion. That’s how much revenue Boeing raked in last year. But if that’s not enough, let’s ask Boeing CEO James McNerney to kick in a little something too, since he gets paid $23.2 million in a single year.

But perhaps Jimmy just doesn’t give a fuck. Boeing refused to respond to press requests for comment. Perhaps all the bigwigs are too busy wiping their sweaty perfumed buttocks with $1000 bills.

This was no accident, or isolated incident. These planes have been known to have had defective air systems for more than 60 FUCKING YEARS. Back in 1953 they initiated an oil filter development program to keep toxic fumes out of the cabin. But they never bothered to complete it, or even analyze the composition or effects of the poisonous compounds that are being allowed in for people to breathe, nor did they install sensors to detect their presence.

Did the fine folks who ran Boeing over that long period lose any sleep over the thought of untold numbers of passengers being toxified, and especially the flight attendants, who are exposed day in and day out to poison simply because they need to make a living to survive and feed their kids? Though we hope these executives are consumed by horrible nightmares, sadly, evidently they did not care, and still do not care, or they would have done something about the problem. Like any proper bloodsucking capitalist motherfucker, for them it’s just fine to poison whoever they want, as long as they can keep accumulating cash.

The flight attendants who filed the current lawsuit reported that toxic fumes made them feel dizzy, pass out, vomit, and speak incoherently. (Next time you start acting like an asshole to one of these underpaid workers (median salary: $37,240) because you don’t want to turn your phone off, have a little sympathy instead).

“I remember walking down the aisle and just gripping the seatbacks because I felt like I was going to fall over,” Vanessa Woods told the press.

“The next thing I know, I was on the galley floor, looking up at Faye who was paging for assistance,” she continued. “She was mumbling incoherently into the PA system. It was beyond frightening.”

Four flight attendants say they’re suffering from long-term medical problems, including memory issues, tremors, blinding headaches, fatigue, gastrointestinal problems, and depression.

Read the lawsuit here.

It’s a chilling tale of an ongoing practice in the airline industry of callous negligence, of casual willingness to put crew and passengers in constant danger. Note the testimony of a pilot so incapacitated he could barely move his hand. Read about the passengers who were in such a “zombie-like condition” that it was hard to wake them up.

We should ask the Boeing CEOs if they travel on any planes that aren’t “bleedless.” Probably not—they don’t *have* to fly them to keep their jobs, like flight attendants do. And they’re not stupid—just greedy motherfuckers with shriveled souls. Not only should they be sued for everything they’re worth, they also should have to inhale the same poisons they force flight attendants to breathe. While serving drinks to 200 cranky passengers.


  1. Good article and cartoon. Mother Jones did a good piece 10 years ago re the practice of mechanics signing off on maintence that was never done, being endemic in the industry. Even more glad I never fly.
    Happy landings,

  2. Elizabeth F. Kaplan says:

    “gets sucked into the planes through the engines” ??

    What kind of idiot engineer designed THAT?

  3. Elizabeth – while I didn’t learn much in the USAF…later flying across the planet, helping blow up stuff where required, I did learn one thing about aircraft engineering:

    “Always remember – Your airplane was made by the lowest bidder…”

    Oh, and it’s not just oil fumes…don’t forget burned methyl-ethyl ketone (MEK) and H-5606 hydraulic fluid…when your systems run at 3000psi, there’s going to be small leaks, especially with stressed/non-inspected fittings. The fluid leaks, gets blown into the intake…burns, get sucked into bleed air..which adds quite the bouquet….


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