Unruly passengers may soon find it difficult to fly on any commercial airline if the Department of Justice puts their names on a national “no-fly” list. This possibility was inspired by the CEO of Delta Air Lines who wrote to Attorney-General Merrick Garland that putting disruptive passengers will reduce cases of assaults on air-flights by preventing unruly passengers from boarding planes around the country.
In 2021, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recorded 5,981 instances of aggressive behavior on airplanes – with 4,290 incidents or 72% of the cases related to wearing face masks. About 350 of the cases were taken to court. This year, the FAA recorded 323 cases of disruptive behavior during flights, even though the federal agency has zero tolerance for toxic passengers.
If the Justice Department approves the initiative, Delta Air Lines CEO Edward H. Bastian said all airlines should have access to the no-fly database so that barred passengers can be banished from flying on any airplanes in the country. Recently, Delta gave more than 900 names of unruly passengers to the Transportation Security Administration with a view to instituting civil actions against them.
“While such cases represent a small fraction of overall flights, the rate of incidents with unruly passengers on Delta have increased nearly 100% since 2019,” Bastian stated. “We fully support using the full force of the law in these cases.”
Delta has barred 1,900 from flying on its planes for refusing to use face masks. Some violent passengers have been known to assault crew members and passengers, while some 37 cases were reported to the FBI. In January, a Delta Air Lines passenger traveling from Dublin to New York refused to wear face up, hurled a can of drink at another passenger, kicked the passenger sitting in front of him, and also refused to sit down or use his seat belt when the plane was landing.
“Passengers who assault, intimidate, or threaten violence against flight crews and flight attendants do more than harm those employees; they prevent the performance of critical duties that help ensure safe air travel,” Garland said in November 2021, tasking federal prosecutors to prioritize inquiries into violent behaviors displayed on planes.