Should Unruly Passengers Be Put on a No-Fly List for Life?

Delta's CEO is proposing an unprecedented solution to combat the airline industry's bad-behavior epidemic

Should Unruly Passengers Be Put on a No-Fly List for Life?

Reports of unruly passengers have become increasingly commonplace since the onset of the pandemic, with nearly 6,000 complaints filed to the Federal Aviation Administration in 2021 — more than 4,000 of them stemming from refusal to wear a mask. For context, the agency averaged 136 investigations a year from 2016 to 2020.

And while things have slowed to some degree — probably owing to the potential for hefty fines (up to $37,000 per violation) and the threat of losing TSA-PreCheck eligibility — criminal passenger behavior is still far too prevalent moving in 2022, with 323 reports already logged on the year.

Which brings us to Delta C.E.O Ed Bastian, who has heroically proposed that they should all be put on a no-fly list.

In a letter to the attorney general, Merrick B. Garland, Bastian argued that in an effort to put inflight violence to a definitive end, unruly passengers should be banned from commercial flights for life.

“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,” Bastian said.

Per a report from The New York Times, Delta has placed nearly 1,900 people on its own no-fly list for failure to comply with the mask mandate, in addition to having referred more than 900 passenger names to the Transportation Security Administration for civil penalties. It is Bastian’s vision, however, that eventually offenders be barred from flying with any carrier at all.

According to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, it’s an idea worth exploring. “I think we need to take a look at it. Look, the airlines are often doing their own internal no-fly list,” Buttigieg told CNN. “Some of them have spoken about maybe coordinating on that, and we’re looking at these policy recommendations as well.”

Now to really put things into perspective, per the TSA‘s website, “The No Fly List is a small subset of the U.S. government Terrorist Screening Database (also known as the terrorist watchlist) that contains the identity information of known or suspected terrorists.”

Imagine being so adamant about not wearing a mask or remaining in your seat that you’re willing to be placed on a list adjacent to actual terrorists instead? I can’t believe this is a conversation, let alone a contentious one, being had in 2022. If you willfully disobey the rules as they are explicitly outlined, it should not be a surprise that private companies want to refuse you service indefinitely. It’s not a three-strike system, nor should it be. If you’re willing to knock a flight attendant’s teeth out over having to put your seat belt on, you should absolutely be placed on a no-fly list, full stop.


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