Transportation

Delta pushes for national 'no fly' list of unruly passengers after banning 1,600 from flights

Delta Air Lines is developing a "no fly" passenger list after heightened instances of unruly passengers amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The airline made the announcement on Thursday, saying that the list already has more than 1,600 entries of passengers prohibited from flying aboard a Delta commercial flight. Delta officials also asked other airlines to share their "no fly" lists as well to further protect their employees and other passengers from disruptive incidents.

"While most interactions with our customers are positive and seamless, incidents involving unruly customer behavior continue to happen across the industry in airports and onboard aircraft," wrote Eric Phillips, the senior vice president of Delta's Cargo Operations in a memo distributed to employees. 

Delta issued this memo and a second one, written by Kristen Manion Taylor, the senior vice president of Delta's Inflight Service, on the same day that a House committee held a hearing on air travel safety.

Data collected between 2020 and 2021 points to large jumps in unruly and even violent passenger behavior as airlines worked to implement public health safety measures to prevent COVID-19 transmission. 

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) notes more than 4,300 unruly passenger reports, with more than 3,000 of these being mask-related incidents.

The federal government requires that masks be worn on planes.

Delta said in both memos that it had submitted more than 600 names of people banned from Delta flights to the FAA as part of the agency's new Special Emphasis Enforcement Program. 

In June, airline industry advocacy group Airlines for America, which represents Delta, co-wrote an open letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland asking for "strong and consistent" penalty enforcement for unruly passengers. 

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