Delta urges airlines to join in a no-fly list for unruly passengers
By Heather Murphy
Delta Air Lines is urging airlines to respond to the extraordinary surge in unruly behavior in the skies by creating a national “no fly” list of barred customers, according to a memo sent to flight attendants last week.
Delta already has more than 1,600 people on its own “no fly” list, according to the memo.
“We’ve also 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,” wrote Kristen Manion Taylor, Delta’s senior vice president of in-flight services. “A list of banned customers doesn’t work as well if that customer can fly with another airline.”
This list would be different from the long-standing government No-Fly List, which passengers may already be familiar with. That list was created to thwart terrorism and is maintained by the FBI, not airlines, a spokesperson for the Federal Aviation Administration said. (Inclusion on that list may not only keep a person off a plane but also block noncitizens from entering the United States, among other consequences.)
The Delta memo did not include criteria for the airline’s “no fly” list, but referred to an upcoming hearing in the House on Thursday on air rage in the skies.
During the hearing, Sara Nelson, the president of the Association of Flight Attendants union, testified that the FAA had logged 4,284 “unruly passenger reports” since January. About three-quarters of them were related to wearing masks on planes, she said; 61% of disruptive passengers also used racist, sexist or homophobic slurs, she said.
“If we continue at this rate, there may be more incidents in 2021 than in the entire history of aviation,” Nelson said.
From 2015 to 2020, the FAA initiated 789 investigations into unruly passenger behavior.
Nelson urged the creation of a central list of passengers who would be barred from flying for a set period, with airlines given access to it.
Teddy Andrews, a flight attendant at American Airlines, testified that a passenger, who was neither eating nor drinking, had responded to Andrews’s plea to put his mask back on by using a racial slur.
“It feels like flight attendants have become the target for all kinds of frustrations that some people are feeling,” Andrews said.
Delta declined to comment on how other airlines had responded to its push to create a “no fly” list, which was reported earlier by Reuters.