Late last week, Delta executives said in a pair of memos to employees that the airline’s permanent “no fly” list was up to more than 1,600 people and was continually growing.
Eric Phillips, Delta’s senior vice president of airport customer service and cargo, wrote in one of the memos, “Let me be clear that any unruly customer behavior, and harmful actions against our team members, will not be tolerated. Anytime a customer physically engages with intent to harm, whether in a lobby, at a gate or onboard, they are added to our permanent No Fly list.”
Phillips said that the airline had asked other carriers to share their lists with them in the same memo.
“As we all know, a list of banned customers doesn’t work as well if that customer can fly with another airline,” Phillips continued.
This is absolutely true. If someone is unruly on a Delta plane because they don’t want to wear a mask, Delta might ban them from their airline. But right now, nothing is stopping that passenger from flying on any other airline and potentially doing the exact same thing.
Delta’s willingness to share their list, and their request that other airlines do the same, is something of a moot point if other airlines aren’t willing to participate. And that seems to be what’s happening right now.
A4A stands for Airlines for America. The organization, previously known as Air Transport Association of America, is an American trade association and lobbying group based in Washington, D.C. They represent major North American airlines and advocate on behalf of its members, “to shape crucial policies and measures that promote safety, security and a healthy U.S. airline industry.”
Southwest Airlines spokesman Chris Mainz followed the same company line, telling NY-1 Spectrum News that, the company doesn’t publicly disclose the details of its restricted fly list.
“That said, we continue to work with our unions, with other airlines, and with the FAA to brainstorm ways to further prevent unruly situations and conflict escalation, including sharing best practices with other airlines,” Mainz said. “We have made it clear we will not tolerate violent and unruly behavior on planes or at airports, no exceptions.”
NY-1 Spectrum News asked American Airlines what they thought of Delta’s idea to share lists. Like Southwest, American directed questions to Airlines for America.
To date, Airlines for America has posted nothing about unruly passengers, sharing lists, etc., on their website. They only have a vague, “A4A advocates on behalf of its members to shape policies that ensure safe and secure skies. Safety is and will always be the number one priority of America’s airlines, and as an industry, we are constantly challenging ourselves to meet and exceed the highest standards of safety. We are proud that air travel continues to be the safest mode of transportation and continue to communicate and collaborate to remain global leaders on aviation safety.”
Their response to Spectrum News’ request for a statement was that they were working with federal agencies “to identify additional actions that can be taken across the aviation ecosystem to prevent and respond to unruly passenger incidents.” As per Spectrum, the trade association and lobby group is also “advocating for increased and expedited prosecution of disruptive passengers by the Justice Department.”
Spectrum also asked United about Delta’s idea – they didn’t respond.
So what’s next?
I mean, sure, mathematically speaking, if there are fewer people on planes, there will be fewer incidents. So then what happens during Thanksgiving and Christmas season? Or next summer, if (heaven forbid) we still have to wear masks on planes?
As for crews becoming better at de-escalating, frankly, they’ve been skilled at this for years – it’s part of their training. I’m sure flight attendants have been using these skills all along and perhaps it stopped some potential incidents from escalating in the first place. Meanwhile, even if “mask” events have gone down by nearly half, wouldn’t it be nice if there were a way so if an anti-masker wasn’t allowed on Delta flights anymore, (s)he wouldn’t be allowed on Southwest, as well, to potentially prevent another incident from happening in the first place?
As for A4A which is, “advocating for increased and expedited prosecution of disruptive passengers by the Justice Department,” I guess they’re all hoping that, “Making an example of people because of how much they have to pay” with increased fines will help. Personally, I think that’s closing the barn door after the horse has escaped. And if you want to make an example of people, let it be, “If you don’t comply with what’s required of you on a plane, you can’t fly anymore, period.”
I think that an industry-wide “no fly list,” perhaps in conjunction with stricter rules on plane/airport alcohol AND, as A4A is advocating, increased and expedited prosecution of disruptive passengers, would be the best way(s) to stop “mask” incidents.
Of course, the reason for requiring masking is because of the health risk of everyone else on the plane, should that person be positive for COVID. The best way to avoid this would be to require everyone on domestic flights to show proof of being vaccinated and have some requirement of negative testing for those who can’t get the vaccine for medical reasons. But hopefully, that will happen in the not-too-distant future.
Feature Photo: Becker1999 / flickr
Want to comment on this post? Great! Read this first to help ensure it gets approved.
Like this post? Please share it! We have plenty more just like it and would love it if you decided to hang around and sign up to get emailed notifications of when we post.
Whether you’ve read our articles before or this is the first time you’re stopping by, we’re really glad you’re here and hope you come back to visit again!
This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary