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Flight Attendant Case Tests If State Labor Laws Trump FAA Rules

  • Airline unions battling industry over mandated breaks
  • US appeals court ruled in favor of attendants in 2021
Travelers wait to check bags at the Alaska Airlines ticket counter at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia.
Travelers wait to check bags at the Alaska Airlines ticket counter at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia.Photographer: Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg

A California law requiring rest and meal breaks for workers has become a fierce battleground between airlines and flight attendants that may soon draw in the US Supreme Court. 

At stake is whether carriers are subject to local labor laws, or can instead follow federal aviation rules that are more focused on passenger safety than working conditions. Airlines say having to abide disparate state regulations could cause chaos at a time when the industry is already struggling to cope with a surge in travel demand amid a worker shortage.