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Alexandria flight attendant among plaintiffs suing federal government over mask requirements

The 61-page lawsuit comes as airline CEO's urge President Joe Biden to lift mask mandates.

DULLES, Va. — A woman from Alexandria is one of nine flight attendants across the country to file a lawsuit against the federal government over the ongoing mask requirements. 

Kathryn Gill is a United Airlines flight attendant based out of Dulles International Airport. In a 61-page lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court of Colorado on March 24, she and eight other flight attendants argue the federal transportation mask mandate is unconstitutional. 

The flight attendants, who work for Allegiant, American, Delta, Frontier, Southwest and United, claim masks impair their health and reduce flight safety. 

Ten pilots also filed a similar lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on March 15. The recent lawsuit is the first litigation by flight attendants. 

The plaintiffs also cite hazardous concerns, reflecting the uptick of unruly passengers since the pandemic started. 

As of September 2021, the rate of unruly passengers on airline flights has dropped sharply from earlier in the year but is mostly unchanged over three months and remains more than twice the level seen in late 2020, according to government figures.

"As flight attendants for major airlines, we have seen up close and personal the chaos in the sky created by the FTMM, with thousands of reports to the Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”) of “unruly” passenger behavior since the FTMM took effect Feb. 1, 2021 – nearly all of which have been caused by incidents related to masks," the lawsuit read.

The federal Transportation Security Administration, citing CDC recommendation, announced extending the use of masks on public transportation and transportation hubs until April 18.

"During that time, CDC will work with government agencies to help inform a revised policy framework for when, and under what circumstances, masks should be required in the public transportation corridor," the announcement read. "This revised framework will be based on the COVID-19 community levels, risk of new variants, national data, and the latest science. We will communicate any updates publicly if and/or when they change."

Lisa Williams, one of the plaintiffs with Gill, hopes the lawsuit will prevent the return of masks even if the TSA guidelines expire next month.

"It's unlawful and unconstitutional, so we're hoping it ends forever and goes away and this never happens to us ever again," Williams told WUSA9. 

The CEOs of 10 airlines and cargo carriers have asked President Joe Biden in a letter to end the transportation mask requirements and testing policy. The letter says the measures in place "no longer make sense in the current public health context."

On Tuesday, 21 states including Virginia filed a lawsuit against Biden challenging the transportation mask requirement. Florida is leading the lawsuit with the help of Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares.

In a tweet, Miyares said, "Not only is this mandate an example of federal overreach, but it's outdated. Across the country, mandates have been lifted in other areas of daily life."

RELATED: Court documents show how an unruly passenger on flight to DC forced a plane to land

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