The Association of Flight Attendants, which in July filed a petition to the U.S. Department of Transportation asking it to set rules to limit extreme temperatures on flights, hopes to collect data through the mobile app to document the problem.
However, many travelers don’t carry thermometers with them and the app does not require verification of a temperature reading. Nelson said the union will be able to check the data with the airport or airline and reports from crews.
The flight attendants union says excessive heat can cause health problems like fatigue, dizziness, heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
Some airlines including Delta have their own policies on cabin temperatures, the union says.
“While some airlines... do try to address this issue, not all do,” said Association of Flight Attendants president Sara Nelson. “Because it’s not a regulation, often it gets prioritized last.”
Sometimes, airlines cut back on the use of auxiliary power units to save fuel and cut costs. Taking extra time to cool down a cabin can also cause delays, Nelson said.
She said setting a standard could help airlines coordinate with airports for mobile air conditioning units for planes on the ground or jetway air conditioning.
Nelson said in one case when cabin temperatures were in the “danger zone,” it turned out that aircraft had been relocated from a cold region to the Caribbean market, and heat was being pumped into the cabin.
The union is recommending target temperatures of 65 to 75 degrees, with a maximum allowed temperature of 80 degrees -- unless all in-flight entertainment units are in use, which can increase the temperature on the plane. In that case, the union is recommending a maximum allowed temperature of 85 degrees.