The number of unruly passengers on airlines has grown significantly throughout the pandemic, and the CEO of one major airline has had enough.
Delta CEO Ed Bastian is calling for a national no-fly list, asking United States Attorney General Merrick Garland to create such a list in a letter last month.
“[The 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 wrote, according to Reuters.
Airlines maintain their own no-fly lists for unruly passengers, but Bastian is asking for the national list to make sure those same passengers are banned from flying any airline, not just the one where they committed an offensive act.
According to Bastian, Delta has close to 2,000 people on its own list, a number that has grown significantly since the start of the pandemic. Many incidents have taken place with passengers unwilling to abide by mask rules and other protocols required during the pandemic.
The Federal Aviation Administration took just under 6,000 reports of unruly passengers in 2021, with 4,290 of those related to masking, according to NPR.
In the first 5 weeks of 2022, the FAA has fielded 323 reports of unruly passengers, CNBC reported.
The Department of Justice has not commented on Bastian’s request, although it noted last fall of the staggering increase in incidents.
In November, Garland directed prosecutors to make passengers committing assaults and other crimes aboard flights a priority prosecution. In October, President Biden asked the Justice Department to deal with the rising numbers of incidents aboard planes.
This isn’t the first time Bastian has attempted to get action on the issue. Last September, he said other airlines to share a centralized no-fly list of unruly passengers.
The ACLU is taking a wait-and-see approach to the idea, noting it could easily be abused by the airlines.
But Charles Stotler, co-director of the Center for Air and Space Law at the University of Mississippi School of Law, told NPR the idea is not without merit.
“As long as the airline’s not acting in an arbitrary and capricious manner, and they’re taking actions in order to curb activities that might be inimical to safety, then the airline no-fly list is legitimate,” Stotler said.
“There has to be some link with safety. Obviously unruly passengers fall into that,” he said.
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