By Terri Jo Neff |
A major U.S.-based airline is pushing for a long-lasting consequence for disruptive passengers—having their names added to the FAA’s “no-fly” list. But it is not only passengers who engage in violence or a threat of violence who could end up banned from flying.
On Feb. 3, CEO Edward Bastian of Delta Airlines wrote a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland asking for support of a plan to ensure more passengers who engage in disorderly conduct on an airplane or even in an airport could be barred from traveling on any commercial air carrier in the future.
“At Delta, nothing is more important than ensuring a safe and secure travel experience for consumers as they reclaim the skies in the months ahead,” Bastian wrote, adding that any “disruption or act of violence on our planes and at our airports warrants full and public prosecution of the offenders, with zero tolerance for any behavior that interferes with flight safety.”
In January, federal prosecution was initiated against passengers in at least four acts of violence against various airline employees. There are also many instances in which a passenger acts in a disorderly manner without placing anyone, or an aircraft, in immediate danger, and is therefore not prosecuted.
Which is why Bastian is calling on all U.S. commercial air carriers to share their “unruly passenger” no-fly list so that individuals with a history of bad behavior against one airline can be prevented from doing the same on another carrier.
But it is not simply passengers who verbally or physically assault crew members or fellow passengers who are considered unruly, according to Bastian’s letter to Merrick.
Passengers who refuse to wear a mask on an aircraft, even when social distancing is occurring or when the passenger is trying to eat, can be deemed by a flight crew member of acting in a disorderly manner. In fact, Bastion’s letter notes nearly 1,900 passengers have been added to Delta’s internal no-fly list for refusing to comply with mask mandates.
The company has also submitted more than 900 of those names to the Transportation Security Administration to pursue civil penalties, Bastian wrote. Such penalties can include thousands of dollars per violation, even if there is no criminal prosecution.
Delta is one of 10 members of Airlines for America (A4A), formerly the Air Association of America, which represents the interests of several of the country’s leading airlines. The other A4A members are Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, jetBlue, Southwest, and United, as well as commercial cargo carriers Atlas Air Worldwide, FedEx Express, and UPS.