WASHINGTON D.C.: After a series of high-profile incidents aboard US aircraft, several bipartisan lawmakers will again push for legislation to ban passengers fined or convicted of serious physical violence from traveling on commercial flights.
This week, Senator Jack Reed and Representative Eric Swalwell, both Democrats, and Republican Representative Brian Fitzpatrick, said they plan to reintroduce the "Protection from Abusive Passengers Act."
"The enhanced penalty is a strong deterrent and needed to improve aviation worker and passenger safety and minimize disruptions to the national aviation system, and restore confidence in air travel," they added.
In 2022, a no-fly list for unruly passengers was opposed by the American Civil Liberties Union, which stressed that the US 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."
The majority of unruly passenger behavior during the COVID-19 pandemic was due to the national mask mandate.
But lawmakers said that even after the mandate ended in April 2022, the Federal Aviation Administration still investigated 831 unruly passenger incidents in 2022, up from 146 in 2019, though down from 1,099 in 2021.
In 2022, the FAA received 2,456 reports of unruly passengers, less than half the 5,981 reports in 2021, which included 4,290 mask-related incidents. The FAA proposed $5 million in fines in 2021 and $8.4 million fines in 2022.
In February 2022, Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian urged the US government to place passengers convicted of on-board disruptions on a national no-fly list.
After a sharp rise in onboard incidents in 2021, US Attorney-General Merrick Garland instructed federal prosecutors to prioritize investigations into airline passengers who committed assaults and other crimes aboard aircraft.