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Sunday, January 17, 2021

Airline Adds Hundreds to No-Fly List Over Mask Violations

The no-fly list at Delta Air Lines is growing as the airline strikes back at passengers who have either flouted the airline’s mask rules or otherwise not complied with flight crews.

Delta’s list includes 880 people who have been banned from flying over violations of the airline’s mask requirements, a spokesman told Reuters on Thursday. The airline “has banned others from flying with the airline for harassing other passengers or unruly behavior related to the U.S. election results,” the outlet added, citing the spokesman.

The list is nothing new. By mid-November, it included almost 550 people who flouted mask rules, The Hill reported. It grew to about 700 in December, according to Travel Pulse.

Flying may require even more conformity to the rules.

On Wednesday, Federal Aviation Administration chief Steve Dickson signed an order to step up enforcement against what the FAA called “unruly passengers.”

“The FAA has recently observed a proliferation of such conduct, including conduct stemming from the failure to wear masks in response to the COVID-19 pandemic-related health measures in place on board aircraft or conduct following the January 6, 2021 violence at the U.S. Capitol,” the order said.

“This bulletin announces an FAA special emphasis enforcement program to more effectively address and deter such conduct by passengers.”

Do you think Delta should be banning people over mask violations?

An FAA statement noted that the agency has often used “warnings” or “counseling” as a way to enforce compliance but that “Effective immediately, however, the FAA will not address these cases with warnings or counseling. The agency will pursue legal enforcement action against any passenger who assaults, threatens, intimidates, or interferes with airline crew members. This policy will be in effect through March 30, 2021.

“Passengers who interfere with, physically assault, or threaten to physically assault aircraft crew or anyone else on an aircraft face stiff penalties, including fines of up to $35,000 and imprisonment. This dangerous behavior can distract, disrupt, and threaten crewmembers’ safety functions,” the statement said.

“Flying is the safest mode of transportation and I signed this order to keep it that way,” Dickson said in the news release.

Political heckling recently greeted Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah on a flight to the Washington, D.C., area after he was first harassed at the Salt Lake City, Utah, airport, according to The Hill.

In the aftermath of the Capitol incursion, some want anyone involved in the chaotic events of the day to be banned from flying.

Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, who chairs the House Committee on Homeland Security, said the federal no-fly list, which is designed to keep terrorists off of planes, should include those who rioted at the Capitol.

“Given the heinous domestic terrorist attack on the U.S. Capitol yesterday, I am urging the Transportation Security Administration and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to use their authorities to add the names of all identified individuals involved in the attack to the federal No-Fly List and keep them off planes,” he said.

“This should include all individuals identified as having entered the Capitol building — an intrusion which threatened the safety of Members of Congress and staff and served as an attack on our Nation.

“We already saw reports of ‘unruly mobs’ in air on the way to Washington, D.C. It does not take much imagination to envision how they might act out on their way out of D.C. if allowed to fly unfettered. This is an action that TSA and the FBI, by law, are able to take but, to my knowledge, have not yet taken. Alleged perpetrators of a domestic terrorist attack who have been identified by the FBI should be held accountable,” Thompson added.

Steven D’Antuono, who heads the FBI’s Washington Field Office, said Tuesday the FBI was “actively looking at” placing rioters on the list, according to The Washington Post.

Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, also wants rioters banned from planes.

“First strike and you’re out,” she told The Post. “This will help serve as a deterrent to unruly passengers who had been bucking the rules of aviation safety.”

Last week, one American Airlines pilot grew so frustrated with an unruly cabin of passengers chanting “USA” that he threatened to drop them in Kansas if they did not comply with airline rules.

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