Pete Buttigieg says federal no-fly list for unruly, violent airline passengers should be considered

News & Politics

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said Sunday the Biden administration should consider placing unruly airline passengers on the federal no-fly list.

What are the details?

During an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union,” host Dana Bash asked Buttigieg whether the federal government should place unruly or violent airline passengers on the federal no-fly list.

In response, Buttigieg agreed the option “should be on the table.”

“Look, it is completely unacceptable to mistreat, abuse, or even disrespect flight crews,” Buttigieg said. “These flight attendants have been on the frontlines of the pandemic from day one. And they’re up there, as the announcement always say, for your safety.”

“There is absolutely no excuse for this kind of treatment of flight crews in the air or any of the essential workers, from bus drivers to air crews who get people to where they need to be,” he continued.

“The FAA stands strongly with flight crews. It’s why you’re seeing some really harsh penalties and fines being proposed,” Buttigieg explained. “And we will continue to look at all options to make sure that flight crews and passengers are safe.”

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As travel volume has returned to pre-pandemic levels, the FAA has recorded nearly 5,000 “unruly passenger reports.” The FAA has also documented nearly 3,600 “mask-related incident reports.”

In one shocking incident last week, an American Airlines flight attendant suffered broken bones when she was assaulted by an angry passenger.

The Washington Post reported:

A flight attendant for American Airlines suffered broken bones in her face and had to be hospitalized after a passenger allegedly attacked her Wednesday in an incident the company’s chief executive called “one of the worst displays of unruly behavior we’ve ever witnessed.” The incident occurred on a flight from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport to John Wayne Airport in Orange County, Calif. It prompted the pilots to divert the flight to Denver, where the passenger was temporarily detained.

The flight attendant apparently bumped the passenger while moving through the first-class cabin, according to Julie Hedrick, president of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, which represents those who fly for American Airlines. The flight attendant apologized, but the passenger left his seat, confronted her as she stood in the aircraft’s galley, then punched her in the face, Hedrick said.

The FAA has a zero tolerance policy for unruly and dangerous behavior. The agency is legally permitted to levy fines of up to $37,000 per violation of the FAA Reauthorization Act.

The question becomes, then, what exactly will government classify as behavior qualifying of being placed on the no-fly list, and will there be due process? Those are questions the Biden administration will have to answer if they truly consider moving forward with such a plan.

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