Home Commercial book Passengers force pilots to divert two American Airlines flights amid no-fly list discussion

Passengers force pilots to divert two American Airlines flights amid no-fly list discussion


The vast majority of in-flight disruptions have involved passengers refusing to follow mask-wearing requirements during flights, while others have been alcohol-related. Incidents involving unruly passengers have declined in recent months after peaking in early 2021, but remain a concern for unions representing flight attendants, pilots, gate agents and other airline workers.

Airlines maintain their own lists of banned passengers, but do not share information with other carriers. Bastian said Delta has 1,900 people on its no-fly list.

Unions representing airline workers have argued that a centralized list is necessary since a passenger banned from one airline can simply book a flight on another carrier. Garland previously ordered federal prosecutors to prioritize the investigation of crimes on planes.

“This action will help prevent future incidents and serve as a strong symbol of the consequences of not following crew member instructions on commercial aircraft,” Bastian wrote.

It’s unclear how such a no-fly list might work, although the Transportation Security Administration has broad legal authority to protect the safety of air travel. The TSA said Monday it was not commenting on the proposed no-fly list, while the Department of Homeland Security did not respond to requests for comment.

Justice Department spokesman Josh Stueve said in a statement that the agency will refer Delta’s letter to the appropriate departments, adding that the agency “continues to prioritize the investigation and prosecution of those who engage in criminal behavior that threatens the safety of passengers, flight crews, and flight attendants.

Michael Huerta, former administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), said the creation of a list would signal that bad behavior on flights is not acceptable. He said agencies and airlines could address issues that should be addressed before launching a no-fly list.

“The aviation industry is not in competition when it comes to safety. There’s a lot of information sharing and collaboration on safety-critical issues, and I put that in that category,” Huerta said. “There should be a common database that everyone can rely on to make sure that, you know, someone who creates a safety hazard on an airline can’t just do the same thing on another airline.”

But Rep. Garret Graves (R-La.), a member of the minority party on the House Aviation Subcommittee, said a centralized list is not the answer to avoiding conflict in the skies. .

“There are way too many people we worked with because their name was close to a name on the terrorist no-fly list,” he said. “At this point, the best solution is to start looking at how to phase out the mask mandate on planes. I’m not sure I see why the government needs to get involved unless there are extreme cases that have gone through rigorous due process and justification.

The latest incidents of unruly behavior occurred within hours of each other on two American Airlines flights on Sunday.

Flight 1775 departed Los Angeles at 9:17 a.m. PT and was en route to Reagan National Airport, near Washington, when a passenger attempted to open the main passenger door, according to the Association. of Professional Flight Attendants. The union, which represents airline flight attendants, said crew members and passengers managed to subdue the man.

The flight landed at 2:28 p.m. local time in Kansas City, Mo., where it was met by law enforcement officials, the airline said.

Caroline Hunter was sitting in row 10 when she noticed the disturbance at the front of the plane. A man, who had apparently gotten up to use the toilet in the first-class cabin, began to cause a commotion, she said.

“All of a sudden the cabin lights, which had been dimmed, came on,” she said. She saw a male flight attendant move quickly to the front of the plane, then heard pleas for “the big guys to come to the front of the plane”.

At one point, Hunter said, the passenger threw a coffee maker. The man was eventually subdued, but not before he was hit in the head with the coffee pot, she said.

“It was crazy and scary,” said Hunter, 40, tour coordinator for the Miss America organization.

The FBI office in Kansas City said in a statement that one person had been arrested. Authorities identified the passenger Monday night as Juan Remberto Rivas, 50, of California. Rivas was accused of assaulting and intimidating a flight attendant, preventing her from carrying out her duties. He remains in federal custody pending a detention hearing, which had not yet been scheduled. It could not immediately be determined whether Rivas had an attorney.

“We are grateful to our crew members, who are constantly dedicated to the safety and care of our customers and who handled the circumstances with the utmost skill and professionalism,” the airline said in a statement. .

Hours later, a second American Airlines flight from Phoenix to Honolulu was forced to turn back after what the airline called “passenger disruption.” He did not reveal any further details about the incident.

The flight landed in Phoenix at 6:53 p.m. local time Sunday and was met by law enforcement, the airline said.

“We thank and commend our team for all they do every day to ensure the safety of our customers when traveling with us,” the airline said in a statement.

Kevin Smith, a spokesman for the FBI office in Phoenix, said officials are aware of the incident and are gathering information to determine next steps, including possible arrest and charges.

The number of passengers who refuse to follow instructions from crew members has increased dramatically during the pandemic.

According to the most recent statistics provided by the FAA, there have been nearly 400 reports of unruly behavior by passenger aircraft this year, 255 of which were related to the federal mask mandate. For the week ending Jan. 30, the FAA reported an average of 6.2 incidents of unruly behavior per 10,000 flights.

In 2021, nearly 6,000 incidents of unruly passenger behavior were reported. Although the agency has proposed over $1 million in fines, it can take months or years for cases to be resolved.

Drew Harwell contributed to this report.