Seeking to keep violent passengers grounded, a trio of lawmakers will again introduce legislation that would create a no-fly list for people who act up in the air.
The bill, called the Protection from Abusive Passengers Act, has bipartisan support: Its sponsors are Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) and Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.). The group filed the same legislation last year, to no avail.
The lawmakers are scheduled to hold a news conference Wednesday morning to reintroduce the bill, alongside flight attendants from Southwest, Frontier and American airlines who will describe how they were assaulted on the job. Members of unions representing pilots, flight attendants and other transportation workers will also attend.
Airlines can ban passengers for bad behavior even if they haven’t been convicted of a crime, though that doesn’t carry over to other airlines. The FBI maintains the federal no-fly list as a subset of the Terrorist Screening Database, which includes people who are either “known terrorists” or are reasonably suspected of being involved in terrorism. Last year, Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian asked the federal government to expand that no-fly list to include people who were convicted for disrupting flights.
As travelers returned to the air after the pandemic started — many chafing at a federal mask mandate — disruptive behavior on planes soared. The Federal Aviation Administration reported that there were nearly 6,000 reports of unruly passengers in 2021, with 1,113 investigations launched and $5 million in fines proposed.
The number of incidents dropped in 2022, with 2,456 unruly passenger reports and 831 investigations started. But the penalties climbed: The FAA proposed more than $8.4 million in fines against unruly passengers last year.
In 2019, only 146 investigations were launched into unruly behavior.
Earlier this month, a United Airlines passenger was charged with interfering with a flight crew using a dangerous weapon after he allegedly tried to open an emergency door and jab a flight attendant’s throat with a broken spoon. Flight attendants have been punched in the back of the head, in the face and had teeth knocked out in recent years.
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland told prosecutors to prioritize investigations involving disruptive air passengers in 2021.
“Mask mandates have ended. Still, the epidemic of air rage continues and this elevated level of in-flight violence has to stop,” Reed said in a statement. “We must do more to protect employees and the traveling public.”
In an advisory announcing the legislation, the lawmakers said banning people from flights would “serve as a strong deterrent.”
Travelers would be considered abusive if they have been convicted of physically or sexually assaulting a crew member on a commercial flight, or threatening to do so; causing an imminent thread to the safety of a plane or people on it; assaulting a federal or airline employee with security duties at an airport; or committing other assaults, threats or intimidation against a crew member during a flight. They could also be placed on a no-fly list if they have been fined for interfering with procedures or security systems on a plane, or causing someone to do so.
Lawmakers said banned travelers would be provided with ways to appeal, guidelines to be removed from the list and procedures to remove someone who was mistakenly added. Abusive passengers would be permanently banned from participating in expedited security screening programs such as TSA PreCheck or Global Entry.
Downtown Bozeman, Montana. | Dennis LennoxWith peak summer travel just around the corner, now is the time to book a getaway.Don’t worry if you have no idea w
Across the Caribbean, chefs are embracing local food traditions and homegrown ingredients, which is both attrac
Considering that about 40 percent of West H
Tens of thousands are expected in Orlando this weekend in celebration of "Gay Days," an annual tradition where people from all over the world come to celebrate