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‘No-fly list’ for unruly airplane passengers: Pete Buttigieg says ‘we need to take a look at it’

The Biden administration should “take a look at” placing disruptive airline passengers on a “no-fly” list, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said on Monday.

This push comes after 2021 was the worst year for passengers acting out on flights, and as Delta’s CEO pleads with the Biden administration to place unruly passengers on a no-fly list — which would bar such individuals from traveling on any commercial air carrier.

“I think we need to take a look at it,” Buttigieg said on CNN about placing disruptive passengers on a federal no-fly list.

“The airlines are often doing their own internal no-fly list,” he added. “Some of them have spoken about maybe coordinating on that, and we’re looking at these policy recommendations as well.”

There were 5,981 unruly passenger reports last year, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. Of those nearly 6,000 incidents, 4,290 were mask-related incidents.

The FAA has reported a “disturbing” spike in unruly incidents, and last month, the FAA administrator ordered a stricter legal enforcement policy against disruptive passengers.

Under the new zero tolerance policy, the FAA will not address these cases with warnings or counseling; the FAA says it will pursue legal enforcement action against any passenger who assaults, threatens, intimidates, or interferes with airline crew members.

There were 323 unruly passenger reports in January, which was down from the rate of nearly 500 monthly incidents last year.

“The FAA has a zero tolerance policy,” Buttigieg said. “Fines have been increased, enforcement has been increased. We’ve seen some encouraging news in terms of downward trends in unruly incidents, but let’s be very clear: This is happening at an unacceptable rate.

“Anything besides zero is an unacceptable rate,” he added. “If you are onboard an aircraft, you need to be — I can’t believe we even have to say this — but you need to listen to what flight crews say, and you need to act in a way that’s safe, not disruptive toward flight crews and toward your fellow passengers.”

Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian last week wrote a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland, urging the Biden administration to place unruly passengers on a no-fly list.

“In addition to the welcome increase in enforcement and prosecutions, we are requesting you support our efforts with respect to the much-needed step of putting any person convicted of an on-board disruption on a national, comprehensive, unruly passenger ‘no-fly’ list that would bar that person from traveling on any commercial air carrier,” Bastian wrote in the letter.

He added, “This action will help prevent future incidents and serve as a strong symbol of the consequences of not complying with crew member instructions on commercial aircraft.”

This article originally appeared on Boston Herald

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