Airline worker advocates are pushing for the creation of government and private no-fly lists for unruly passengers amid increasing violence against crews and flight attendants.
Union leaders told a House Homeland Security subcommittee on transportation this week that they wanted the federal government to take further action to protect workers as incidents involving disruptive passengers continue to rise over the course of of the pandemic.
They suggested the TSA keep a no-fly list of those convicted of felonies on board planes or being fined by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), officers’ union leaders said. board and transport workers.
“If there is no no-fly list… people are going to continue assaulting aircraft crews and gate agents,” Transport Workers Union of America president John Samuelsen said.
The airline’s latest notable incident occurred last weekend when a Southwest Airlines agent was hospitalized after being assaulted by a passenger. The airline industry has warned of an unprecedented spike in unruly passengers since February.
In a typical year, the FAA would see around 100 to 150 cases of unruly passengers per year, but as of May, it reported more than 1,300. According to data released by the FAA on Tuesday, 5,240 incidents involving passengers unruly have been reported so far this year.
Last month the transport secretary Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegFeehery: Why Democrats are now historically unpopular Harris, Buttigieg to promote infrastructure law in Charlotte ‘Fox & Friends Weekend’ hosts suggest new variant meant to distract from Biden struggles MORE said a federal no-fly list for violent passengers should be considered.
The US government has only one type of federal no-fly list, which prohibits those considered terrorist threats from boarding airplanes. Airlines can also ban passengers from flying for violating company policy, but there is no way to share this information with other airlines.
Flight Attendants Union President Sara Nelson pleaded for an additional private no-fly list, suggesting airlines could flag disruptive passengers and share data among themselves, even if those passengers do not reach the conviction or fine thresholds.
“There may be an added level of counseling and flagging of potential problem passengers when an airline has conducted an internal investigation and determined that it is going to ban that traveler from that particular airline,” Nelson said.
“This information should at least be shared with the other airline so that they have the information and can resolve the problem when passengers buy tickets,” she added.
Airlines for America, a trade group that represents several major carriers, said they are “arguing for increased and accelerated prosecution” in criminal cases involving unruly passengers, but declined to say whether they support airlines sharing flights. lists of disruptive passenger names.
“While the vast majority of passengers will comply with all crew instructions, we continue to work with our government partners in the FAA, TSA and other relevant agencies to identify additional actions that can be taken in the future. the aviation ecosystem to prevent and respond to unruly passenger incidents. “An Airlines for America spokesperson said in a statement to The Hill.
Airlines have been reluctant to embrace the idea of an industry-administered no-fly list. But in a September letter to flight attendants, Delta vice president Kristen Manion Taylor said the company had “asked other airlines to share their no-fly lists to further protect employees. airline industry “.
Nelson said airlines should standardize and share problematic passenger lists among themselves as part of a good faith effort to protect flight attendants from all carriers.
“This is another step that can be added to the list that would not be a TSA required flight ban, but information shared to help make good decisions and keep issues on the ground,” said Nelson.