Delta proposes national ‘no-fly’ list for combative passengers

Delta Air Lines is urging the Biden administration to create a national  “no-fly” list for combative passengers as airlines grapple with unruly guests who defy COVID-19 protocols and harass flight crews.

Delta CEO Ed Bastian wrote a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland in which he called on the Justice Department to set up a national “no-fly list” for unruly passengers, noting that close to 2,000 of their previous passengers had already been placed on the airline’s own list, according to a letter obtained by The Hill and first reported by Reuters.

Bastian also noted that they were seeking civil penalties for over 900 of those on their no-fly list, submitting their names to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

The Delta CEO said that creating a national no-fly list for unruly passengers would “help prevent future incidents and serve as a strong symbol of the consequences of not complying with crew member instructions on commercial aircraft,” according to Reuters, noting that a similar one exists associated with their terrorism watch list.

A spokesperson for the Justice Department told The Hill in a statement that they would be referring Bastian’s letter to the “appropriate departments” for consideration.

“The Department of Justice is continuing to prioritize the investigations and prosecutions of those who engage in criminal behavior that threatens the safety of passengers, flight crews, and flight attendants,” Justice Department spokesman Joshua Stueve said. “We are fully committed to holding accountable those who violate federal law. We will be referring Delta‘s letter to appropriate departments.”

The move comes as airlines have grappled with a surge of unruly passengers, including those fighting COVID-19 protocols or harassing flight crews or other passengers. 

Last month three women were charged with assaulting a Delta Air Lines security officer at John F. Kennedy International Airport in September. The three were told they would not be able to board their flight due to “apparent intoxication” before they later attacked the officer on a JFK jetway.

Garland in late November ordered the Justice Department to prioritize the prosecution of unruly passengers following a push from Democratic lawmakers earlier that month.

“Passengers who assault, intimidate or threaten violence against flight crews and flight attendants do more than harm those employees; they prevent the performance of critical duties that help ensure safe air travel,” Garland said in November. “Similarly, when passengers commit violent acts against other passengers in the close confines of a commercial aircraft, the conduct endangers everyone aboard.”

— Updated at 5:53 p.m.

Tags Delta Air Lines DOJ Merrick Garland Merrick Garland unruly passengers

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