NTSB Cites Heroism by IAM Flight Attendants

Regina Ressler
Al Felipe
Pam Howard


In a report released this week, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) cited high winds as the probable cause for the crash of Continental Flight 1404 at Denver International Airport on December 20, 2008. The NTSB also credited the IAM-represented Flight Attendants for the successful evacuation of all 110 passengers and crew from the burning aircraft.

“This accident was nothing short of a holiday miracle,” said NTSB chair Deborah Hersman at the Washington, D.C. meeting held to announce the results of the board’s investigation. Hersman called the actions of the Flight Attendants on Flight 1404 “a shining example of the things that went right that evening.”

The scene inside the aircraft was described in vivid detail in a Denver Post article published immediately following the accident. “Windows were melting and popping. Passengers were screaming, ‘we’re gonna burn’ and ‘it’s gonna explode,” said Continental pilot Richard Lowe, who commended the cabin crew for taking command of the situation.

Despite injuries sustained in the crash, the three IAM Flight Attendants, Pam Howard, Al Felipe and Regina Ressler, calmed panicked passengers and directed the evacuation through exits that were not engulfed in flames.

The three Flight Attendants, who are members of Local 2339H in Houston, TX, were honored at the 2009 IAM Transportation Conference in New York with the first IAM Joint Air Transport Safety Committee Excellence in Safety Award.

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