Transport Workers Union Appeals To Add Disruptive Airline Passengers to a No-Fly List
The president of the Transport Workers Union has appealed to Congress to add disruptive airline passengers to a no-fly list as a measure against the recent uptick in unruly behaviors.
As holiday flight traffic resurges, the president of the Transport Workers Union has appealed to Congress to add disruptive airline passengers to a no-fly list as a measure against the uptick in unruly passengers that began in 2020 and increased in 2021, according to an FAA report.
The President of the Transport Workers Union addressed the House Homeland Security Committee on November 16, with data from a FAA report showing at least 5,240 incidents of unruly passengers in 2021 so far.
Since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic, there’s been an increase in cases of airline passengers assaulting airline staff, including punching, spitting, and verbal berating, among other disruptive behaviors. Between 2019 and 2020, the number of unruly passengers has nearly doubled within the U.S.
Of the 5,240 incidents reported by the FAA, more than 75% of those incidents involved passengers who became unruly due to federal mask mandates for travelers on plane.
Over the weekend, Nashville officials arrested a woman after she assaulted two flight attendants, punching one attendant and pulling another attendant by her hair. The passenger is believed to have been intoxicated during the outburst, which was mitigated by the restraint of a nearby passenger.
The new proposal is not the first time that the FAA has attempted to crack-down on unruly passengers. In May of 2021, the agency proposed issuing $100,000 dollar fines to disruptive passengers. Earlier this month, the FAA sent letters directly to airports asking for their help protecting passengers and airport staff from disorderly passengers and to prohibit passengers from boarding planes with cocktails from airport restaurants. FAA Chief Stephen Dickson also called on local police departments to hold certain passengers accountable with criminal charges.
The DOJ has stepped in as well, with U.S. Attorney Merrick Garland instructing national federal prosecutors to prioritize the prosecution of airline passengers committing assault on board.
Despite these measures, airline personnel continued to face abuse in the first half of 2021: In an AFA survey of 5,000 flight attendants, more than 85% of respondents said that more than half of the incidents related to unruly passengers involved racist, sexist, or homophobic slurs during altercations, and nearly 20% became physical.
In response to the growing number of incidents, Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg said that adding unruly passengers to a no-fly list should be “on the table.”