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Cabin Odor Events
May 12, 2018

May 8, 2018

Cabin Odor Events - A Message from AFA Frontier Safety

Flight Attendants and Pilots have reported an increase number of odor events through ASAP and Incident Reports.  AFA has been working with the company to identify the cause and work on preventative procedures to help eliminate these events.

In January of this year, I worked in conjunction with ALPA, we attended a meeting with the company to include members from Flight Ops and Inflight Training regarding the implementation of procedures for the flight deck/cabin approved by the FAA.  Frontier and Spirit Airlines are the only carriers to receive this FAA approval.  These procedures are directly related to the events that had been referred to as “Fume Events” where crews may have been negatively impacted by the smell/odor sometimes described as the smell of burnt oil or dirty socks.  However, since there are already approved FAA procedures for “Smoke/Fumes” directly correlated to possible smoke/fire events with a different set of preventative procedures, the new procedures will be referred to as cabin “Odor Events”.  The purpose for the meeting in January was to fast-track information into the very first Flight Attendant recurrent ground school for 2018.  Flight Attendants that have already attended recurrent, should have received information regarding these odor events.  AFA requested the company provide more in-depth training by way of CBT(s) but this has not happened as of today.  The purpose of this e-line is to provide more information to our Flight Attendants to bring awareness, how to respond, what to communicate to the Flight Deck and steps to take after the event.  Until a comprehensive procedure has been approved by the company, please refer to the following guidelines.

We all know that there are several different odors on board the aircraft. Some odors are unpleasant, but harmless. Others can be toxic, so it is important to recognize and report them. The presence of certain odors coming out of the air vents in the cabin can mean that the ventilation air is contaminated with either oil or hydraulic fluid. Don’t ignore it – even if it’s “just a smell” without any smoke or haze - because breathing those chemicals can make you sick.

  • Oil fumes often smell like dirty socks or musty/foul odor.
  • Hydraulic fluid fumes often smell acrid. 

 Awareness:  The time of the odor will likely occur:

  • At the gate with the APU running
  • Engine start/Takeoff/Climb
  • Top of descent and thru descent
  • Sometimes in precipitation

How to respond/communicate:  Actions to take if you experience these odors:

Pilots have a form to complete in Comply 365.  I have been working with the company on a similar form for Flight Attendants, however, it has not been approved yet.  In lieu of that form, for now, please follow these guidelines:

·        Where is the location of the odor?

  • Lav
  • Forward Cabin
  • Mid Cabin
  • Aft Cabin
  • Forward Galley
  • Aft Galley
  • Entire Cabin 

·        Apparent source?

  • Air supply System Vents
  • Passenger Item
  • Cabin Item or Unknown

·        How severe is the smell?

  • Mild
  • Moderate
  • Strong
  • Nauseating

·        What does it smell like?

  • Acrid, Electrical
  • Chemical
  • Fuel
  • Deicing
  • Musty/Moldy
  • Dirty Socks
  • Oily
  • Burning Oil
  • Exhaust
  • Vomit

·        Is there smoke or a haze?

  • Color
  • Localized or General

·        Symptoms reported by?

  • Flight Crew
  • Flight Attendant(s)
  • Passenger(s)

·        Symptoms experienced?

  • Abnormal taste
  • Dizziness
  • Tingling
  • Slowed Thinking
  • Fatigue/Weakness
  • Trouble Breathing
  • Headache
  • Irritated Eyes, Nose, Throat

Time is critical. If you smell anything unusual or experience symptoms, contact the Flight Deck immediately and provide as much information as you can.  Information from the cabin will assist the pilots with their new checklist for these events.  This information will also help maintenance with key information to find and fix the source of the fumes.

Steps to Take After:  Protect Yourself

  • Contact your AFA Safety Representatives at safetycommittee@afafrontier.org844-232-3971 to report the date, flight number, aircraft number, your symptoms, and details.
    • As backup, you can also contact AFA’s Judith Anderson (, 206-932-6237).  AFA will provide you with information and support and will attempt to find out what you were exposed to.

  • Complete/submit the necessary incident\ASAP form within  24 hours
    • Keep a copy of the report you send to the company for your records
    • Keep a copy of any responses you get from the company for your records

  • If you have symptoms, seek medical attention immediately so your symptoms are documented

  • If you have symptoms, call your Inflight supervisor to file an On-the-job Injury (OJI)/Workers’ Compensation (WC) claim. The 365-Nurse's line is 1-866-614-4988.

  • Keep a record of your symptoms, keep a copy of claim number/paperwork for your records.

  • Take photos/video of any visible symptions (rash, tremors. Etc.)

If you have any questions, feel free to contact your AFA Safety Committee at (844) 232-3971 press 5 or email us at

In Unity,

Sherry Chadwick

AFA-CWA MEC Frontier

Safety Chairperson/ERC Primary
Frontier Airlines Association of Flight Attendants-CWA
8085 E Prentice Ave
Greenwood Village, CO 80111

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