top of page

Buttigieg: Federal No-Fly List ‘On The Table’ For Unruly Passengers

Incidents of violent air rage have made headlines throughout the pandemic, and yet the problem still persists. Now industry leaders and key government officials are talking tougher about taming the unfriendly skies.

Less than two weeks ago, an American Airlines flight from New York to California, was forced to divert to Denver after a passenger repeatedly punched a female flight attendant in the face, breaking bones in her face and leaving her face mask splattered in blood.

American Airlines CEO Doug Parker described the incident as “one of the worst displays we’ve seen,” insisting that the passenger “will never be allowed to fly American again and we are doing everything we can to ensure they are prosecuted to the fullest extent possible.”

Delta Air Lines suggested in September that the major U.S. airlines should share their no-fly lists. Kristen Manion Taylor, Delta’s senior vice president of in-flight service, wrote in a memo to flight attendants that “a list of banned customers doesn’t work as well if that customer can fly with another airline.”

“Anytime a customer physically engages with intent to harm, whether in a lobby, at a gate or onboard, they are added to our permanent No Fly list,” wrote Eric Phillips, Delta’s senior vice president of charter and cargo operations, in another staff memo. “We also actively engage with local authorities to ensure these incidents are investigated and prosecuted as the law allows.”

The notion of a master blacklist appears to be gaining steam. Yesterday, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg told CNN’s “State of the Union” that a federal no-fly list “should be on the table” for violent airplane passengers, adding that it was “completely unacceptable to mistreat, abuse or even disrespect flight crews” that have been on the front line of the pandemic.

At a September congressional subcommittee hearing about the escalation of air rage in the United States, flight attendants and other industry representatives painted a stark picture of how unfriendly the skies have become during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Frontline aviation workers have to deal with everything from vulgar language, including racial epithets, to punching, kicking, biting, shoving and spitting from passengers,” Rick Larsen, Chair of the Subcommittee on Aviation, said at the hearing titled “Disruption in the Skies: The Surge in Air Rage and its Effects on Workers, Airlines, and Airports.”

Unruly passenger behavior is not a new phenomenon, but it has spiked over the past year. From 2015 to 2020, the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) had initiated a total of 786 investigations into unruly passenger behavior. “However, through the first nine months of 2021, FAA has initiated 789 investigations,” said Larsen.

According to a recent survey of flight attendants, over 85% had dealt with unruly passengers in the first half of 2021. “These numbers are staggering and if they continue at this rate may result in more incidents in 2021 than the entire history of commercial aviation,” testified Sara Nelson, the president of a union representing cabin crew workers from 17 airlines.

This article originally appeared on Forbes

3 views0 comments


bottom of page