Delta Airlines, Washington Post Call For The Federal Government To Create A No-Fly List For Unruly Passengers
from the being-shitty-about-mask-requirements-is-the-new-terrorism dept
We already have enough problems with the no-fly lists we already have. No due process. No effective way to challenge placement on the list. No real oversight of the means and methods used to “nominate” Americans and visiting foreigners into flightlessness.
So why in the name of all that is holy are airlines and, yes, even the Washington Post editorial staff calling for a new no-fly list — one that targets unruly passengers who have been kicked off planes for, among other things, becoming combative when asked to respect mask mandates?
Delta’s CEO called for a national no-fly list of unruly passengers. He’s right.
Is he, though? This is what Delta has asked the DOJ to do:
In a letter to the Justice Department Attorney General Merrick Garland dated Thursday, Delta CEO Ed Bastian said there should be “zero tolerance” for any behavior that affects flight safety. Bastian noted that while such incidents of bad behavior represent a small fraction of overall flights on Delta, the rate of incidents on the airline has increased nearly 100% since 2019.
“This action 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 wrote in the letter furnished to The Associated Press by Delta Air Lines.
And here’s how the Washington Post editorial board summarizes its agreement:
Passengers, some of them drunk, who violently protest mask mandates while flights are underway pose a risk to everyone on board. They are a particular hazard for airline personnel, a workforce already strained and understaffed because of the pandemic. Airlines are right to refuse service to those passengers and to warn ticket-holders of the consequences of rebellious behavior.
You may notice something about that paragraph of agreement: airlines already have the right to refuse service to misbehaving customers, just like any other private company. In fact, airlines already maintain their own no-fly lists that prevent evicted passengers from flying on their planes.
Airlines also have the power to recommend de-planed passengers to the FAA to pursue civil penalties. That the FAA has been less than 100% effective in doing this is no reason to call for yet another federally-controlled no-fly list that will, inevitably, result in the same injustices and be subject to the same minimal oversight. I mean, if airlines are looking for new ways to be sued, a no-fly list that is, in essence, controlled by them is a damn good way to accomplish this.
These complaints are backed by the unions that represent a number of airline employees. But those echoed complaints aren’t necessarily backed by evidence that a drastic move like this is necessary.
They suggested the TSA keep a no-fly list of individuals convicted of crimes aboard airplanes or be fined by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), flight attendant and transport worker union leaders said.
“If there is not a no-fly list … people are going to continue to assault plane crews and gate agents,” said Transport Workers Union of America president John Samuelsen.
Maybe this is supposed to be a nod towards the assumed deterrence a no-fly list would create, but it reads more like the union is claiming there are a lot of repeat offenders — a claim that doesn’t appear to have any basis in fact. There may have been a spike in incidents, mainly due to mask requirements, but that’s not the same thing as booted passengers seeking travel alternatives and committing the same violent acts once on board a competitor’s airplane.
Other unions aren’t necessarily on board with the federal list the head of Delta wants, though. Some suggest nothing more than more sharing of information on ejected passengers (something that raises some interesting privacy questions), while other reps just want to see the FAA be a little more enthusiastic about pursuing civil fees.
Some blend of these ideas will probably be enough to deter future violent acts by passengers who would apparently rather face criminal and civil penalties than wear a mask for a few hours. While those with boots on the ground (with the ground being the air in this case) may feel something more immediate and drastic is needed to protect employees and other passengers, the Washington Post’s advocacy of another federal watchlist that will answer to almost no one seems like an extension of its antipathy towards anti-maskers, rather than a thoughtful take on a spike in passenger violence that is almost certainly as anomalous as the pandemic that inadvertently triggered it.