Following a number of recent high-profile incidents, a bipartisan group of lawmakers will redouble their efforts to pass legislation that would prohibit passengers who have been fined or found guilty of serious physical assault from boarding commercial flights.
On Monday, three lawmakers announced their intention to reintroduce the “Protection from Abusive Passengers Act.” They argue that a tougher punishment is necessary to increase passenger and employee safety in the airline industry, in order to “minimize disruptions to the national aviation system and restore confidence in air travel.”
Senator Jack Reed and Representative Eric Swalwell, both Democrats, and Republican Representative Brian Fitzpatrick are introducing the measure in response to multiple incidents that have occurred on airplanes.
In opposition to the creation of a no-fly list for unruly travelers last year, the American Civil Liberties Union argued that the American government “has a terrible record of treating people fairly with regard to the existing no-fly list and other watch lists that are aimed at alleged terrorists.”
Much of the displeasure of passengers in the early stages of the pandemic was caused by the federal government’s masking requirement. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) investigated 831 incidents of unruly passengers in 2022. That was 146 more than in 2019, but fewer than the 1,099 in 2021, lawmakers said.
The overall number of incidents recorded aboard has significantly decreased and is now back to its pre-Covid levels.
The lawmakers will be joined by flight attendants from Southwest Airlines Co, Frontier Airlines, and American Airlines, as well as unions like the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA and the Air Line Pilots Association, at a planned news conference on Wednesday.
The bill would give the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) flexibility in deciding how long to ban individuals from flying depending on the severity of the incident, direct TSA to create and manage the no-fly list, establish guidelines for appeals and removal from the list, and more.
A man was arrested earlier this month, prosecutors alleged he tried to open an emergency exit door on a United Airlines flight to Boston and attempted to stab a flight attendant in the neck with a broken metal spoon.
Ed Bastian, CEO of Delta Air Lines, called on the federal government in February 2022 to place individuals found guilty of disrupting aircraft on a nationwide no-fly list so they would not be allowed to travel on a commercial airline in the future.