Passengers wearing protective masks wait to board a Delta Air Lines Inc. flight at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., on Wednesday, April 7, 2021.
Elijah Nouvelage | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Airlines have banned hundreds of passengers for unruly behavior since the start of the pandemic. Delta Air Lines wants carriers to share those lists.
The Atlanta-based carrier has asked “other airlines to share their ‘no fly’ list to further protect airline employees across the industry — something we know is top of mind for you as well,” Kristen Manion Taylor, Delta’s senior vice president of in-flight service, wrote to flight attendants on Wednesday. “A list of banned customers doesn’t work as well if that customer can fly with another airline.”
Delta said it has 1,600 passengers on its list. It declined to comment further on a shared no-fly list of banned travelers.
Flight attendant and pilot labor unions have raised alarms about unruly passenger behavior that’s surged during the coronavirus pandemic. Reports have included incidents of shouting, verbal abuse of crews and, in rare cases, physical assault.
The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, which represents some 50,000 cabin crew members across more than a dozen airlines, has previously called for a centralized database of banned airline passengers.
The Federal Aviation Administration has received 4,385 reports of unruly passengers this year, close to three-quarters of them related to travelers who refused to comply with a federal mask mandate on board.
The FAA earlier this year issued a zero tolerance policy for these incidents and said Thursday that the rate has dropped by 50% since then. It added, however, that the rate of six incidents per 10,000 flights “remains too high.”
Labor unions and airlines in June requested that the Justice Department prosecute passengers who become violent on flights.
“The top priority of A4A passenger carriers is the safety of all employees and passengers, and we are committed to working with the federal government and our industry partners to provide a safe journey for all travelers,” said Airlines for America, a lobbying group for large U.S. carriers including Delta, American, United and others.
Airlines’ banned passenger lists are separate from the federal no-fly list, which is managed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Terrorist Screening Center.
Southwest’s incoming CEO, Bob Jordan, told CNBC on Thursday that he didn’t expect alcohol sales to return until the federal mask mandate for air travel is lifted, a step that is currently scheduled for Jan. 19.
Rep. Peter DeFazio, (D-Ore.) chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, on Thursday said airport restaurants should help stop passengers from bringing alcohol on board with to-go cups.
“There is no reason that a passenger should be able to leave a restaurant with a ‘to-go’ cup of alcohol and board a plane with it,” he said in written testimony ahead of a committee hearing on air rage.