In a letter to US Attorney General Merrick Garland, Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian has demanded the creation of a new federal ‘no-fly’ list that would ban all rowdy and aggressive passengers from commercial flights.
US airlines have seen a spike in disorderly flyers since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, with numerous videos going viral of air travelers getting into verbal and physical fights over mask mandates and other pandemic-related restrictions.
In 2021, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recorded nearly 6,000 cases of unruly and disruptive behavior by passengers, with over 70% related to COVID-19 protocols like masking. In 2022, there have already been 323 reported disruptive passengers.
Delta CEO requested the US government take steps that “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 also pointed that the current federal ‘no-fly’ list contains a subset for persons deemed by the US government to be a threat to civil aviation.
According to Delta CEO, 1,900 people have been placed on Delta Air Lines’ own ‘no-fly’ list for refusing to comply with airline mandates, such as masking. More than 900 of those names have been given to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) for potential future penalties.
In 2021, US President Joe Biden ordered that the Justice Department “deal” with the rise in incidents aboard flights.
In November, US AG Garland announced the that the department would prioritize the prosecution of combative passengers, saying they present a threat to “everyone aboard” a flight.