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Delta proposes a second national 'no-fly' list — for unruly passengers

Sept. 24, 2021
3 min read
Delta proposes a second national 'no-fly' list — for unruly passengers
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As the number of incidents with unruly air travelers keeps climbing, Delta Air Lines is out with its proposed solution.

This week, the Atlanta-based carrier shared two internal memos with its workforce, which include details about a proposed national "no-fly" list of unruly passengers.

According to the notes, Delta is urging airlines to create a unified list of banned passengers to that they can collectively work to minimize the number of inflight disruptions. Once your name is added to the list, you'd theoretically be banned from boarding a flight, regardless of which airline you're flying.

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Right now, each airline keeps its own record of unruly passengers — if you're banned from flying Delta, nothing is stopping you from booking a United flight. (According to the memo, Delta already has more than 1,600 people on its own “no-fly” list.)

Delta's proposed "no-fly" list would essentially become the second national database of banned travelers, joining the existing one of known or suspected terrorists that are barred from boarding a flight and entering the U.S.

It wasn't immediately clear how Delta's proposal would work — how would airlines align on criteria, and who would be in charge of monitoring the database and keeping it updated? We reached out to the airline to learn more, but it didn't have any additional information to share.

Delta's latest move comes roughly four months after it tightened its own policies again unruly behavior.

In an update to its SkyMiles program terms and conditions, travelers who threaten, intimidate or otherwise cross a line with Delta employees could have their accounts closed. That includes the possible forfeiture of all accumulated mileage credit, any unused and upcoming award or upgrade certificates and all other associated membership benefits, including Medallion elite status. You could also be banned from flying with Delta in the future.

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Unruly behavior in airports and on airplanes has dramatically increased since the outset of the pandemic.

Air rage crisis: Congress gets an earful on unruly flyer incidents aboard US flights

In January, the FAA announced a zero-tolerance policy for unruly behavior aboard flights to help quell the a round of disruptive behavior emerging that — at the time — was largely centered around the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6. Since then, compliance with mask rules and other pandemic-era stresses have been cited in a large number of inflight incidents.

On Thursday, the Federal Aviation Administration said that rates of unruly passengers aboard commercial flights have dropped by 50% since early 2021, though they're still more than double what they were at the end of 2020.

Last month, the FAA reached a major milestone in fines against unruly passengers — the agency has now fined passengers a total of over $1 million in 2021. Passengers who’ve received the highest penalties have been alleged by the FAA to have physically assaulted flight attendants and other passengers, snorted cocaine inflight and refused to follow the federal mask mandate.

Though unruly behavior continues to grab headlines, it’s important to note that it represents only a small fraction of the total number of travelers taking to the skies. Just six occurrences for every 10,000 flights as of last week, the FAA said.

Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.