Reminder: You don’t have to be on the ‘No Fly List’ to receive an airline ban

Jan 11, 2021

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Following last week’s attack on the U.S. Capitol, videos have been circulating of travelers acting out — some possibly related to individuals coming from or going to Washington while others may be entirely unrelated.

Among the videos gaining steam, one clip of a man sobbing after being removed from a Delta flight has become especially popular on Twitter. As of this writing, it has nearly 19 million views on that platform alone — perhaps due to the poster suggesting this traveler ended up on the “No Fly List.”

Officially, the No Fly List is managed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) — specifically, a division called the Terrorist Screening Center. While some of the individuals who participated in last week’s riots could eventually find their names on that list, that most likely isn’t what’s happening here.

Notably, travelers on the No Fly List wouldn’t be issued a boarding pass, and the man in the video above appears to be walking through the departures area of Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) — he’s already passed through the TSA checkpoint, most likely using a valid boarding pass.

Instead, what seems more likely is that another transgression was at the heart of the disturbance.

While the dialogue’s a bit hard to follow, the man can be heard saying “they kicked me off the plane.” Next, a person who appears to be a passenger wearing red jacket approaches, explaining “I had been kicked off Delta earlier.”

While Delta was unable to comment on the travelers in this video, the airline clarified that if a passenger is removed from a flight, the decision is made based solely on how they behave at the airport or onboard. As the airline explained:

Nothing is more important than the safety and security of our people and customers. Decisions made to remove unruly customers on flights are based solely on behavior that affects the safety and security of our operation including noncompliance with instruction from flight crews.

Though it’s unclear what happened with the passenger in the video, there are a number of things that could cause problems for a passenger.

Fighting with another passenger is certainly cause for a ban, as is refusing to follow crew member instructions — a big no-no in the industry.

And if you assault another passenger or a crew member, you could also face huge fines and serious jail time, as the FAA reminded during the weekend:

As for airline bans, countless travelers have had their privileges revoked during the pandemic, including thousands who have been banned for refusing to wear a face covering in the airport or while onboard a flight.

Here’s how the numbers break down to date:

  • Alaska: 302
  • Allegiant: 15
  • Delta: 700+
  • Frontier: 500+
  • Hawaiian: 56
  • JetBlue: 114
  • Spirit: 432
  • United: 615

And there are likely even more — American and Southwest are unable to confirm the number of customers they’ve banned, and Sun Country did not immediately respond to TPG’s request.

Long story short: It doesn’t take landing on an official No Fly List to find yourself left behind at the airport. It’s best to do everything in your power to be a model citizen in the sky if you don’t want to risk becoming grounded.

This includes being mindful of airline procedures around face coverings and masks, avoiding any negative interactions with other passengers, and, most of all, be sure to follow all crew member instructions, regardless of how you feel about the policies that flight attendants, pilots and other airline employees are compelled to enforce.

Featured photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy.

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