Airlines hope to establish federal no-fly list for unruly passengers in time for spring break


Photo used with permission from MaxPixel

In recent months, planes have been diverted to the nearest airport due to disturbances caused by passengers.

As the mask mandates are being lifted and spring break approaches, airlines continue to demand a federal no-fly list for unruly passengers. According to an article by NPR, CEO of Delta Airlines Edward Bastian sent a letter to U.S Attorney General Merrick Garland in February requesting the federal government’s assistance in setting up a nationwide no-fly list. 

The request comes amongst a record spike in rowdy passengers reported over the last 14 months. Delta has put almost 1,900 people on Delta’s no-fly list for refusing to act in accordance with the masking requirement. The newly proposed list will be nationwide and would “bar any person convicted of an on-board disruption from traveling on any commercial air carrier,” Bastian said in a letter to NPR.

Flight attendants and crews call for bans after a violent incident last May between a passenger and a flight attendant when the passenger refused to wear a mask and comply with basic flight safety protocols. The currently existing no-fly list is government-run and is part of the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Database to end terrorist attacks. The proposed no-fly list hopes to be, “separate from the existing government-run list,” proponents said in a CNN article

In one incident on May 23, Vyvianna M. Quinonez boarded a Southwest plane and violated FAA regulations by refusing to wear a mask properly, pulling down her tray table during the plane’s final descent and unbuckling her seatbelt. After Quinonez was asked by a flight attendant to comply with the mask and seatbelt policies, Quinonez shoved the flight attendant. Both Quinonez and a fellow passenger then proceeded to film the fight, showing Quinonez punching the flight attendant in the face and pulling her hair. The fight was eventually diffused by another passenger and Quinonez was reprimanded by another member of the flight crew said the Association of Flight Attendants

The flight attendant was treated at a hospital for multiple injuries including a bruised and swollen eye, a cut requiring three stitches and three chipped teeth, two of which required replacing. Quinonez pleaded guilty to a charge of interference with flight crew members and attendants in a federal court and faces a possible sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. 

Critics of the nationwide no-fly list believe that banning American citizens from air travel is violating our Constitutional Fifth Amendment rights because flying on commercial airplanes falls under the right of liberty that’s guaranteed in the Constitution. Others believe that inappropriate behavior onboard a commercial aircraft should be met with swift and severe removal of airline privileges.  Despite a strong push from airlines including Delta, the proposal however remains under review on the Attorney General’s desk.