Home Airlines Southwest, Others, Hesitant To Share Their No-Fly Lists

Southwest, Others, Hesitant To Share Their No-Fly Lists

by SharonKurheg

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.

Southwest Airlines

Bob Jordan is in line to become Southwest Airline’s CEO in February, when outgoing CEO, Gary Kelly, departs. In a recent discussion with reporters and editors at the Bloom News headquarters in New York, Jordan said the carrier is “wary” of sharing no-fly lists with other airlines.

“These are industry issues, and so I’d like to use the A4A as the body to think through that,” he said.

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.”

American Airlines

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.”

United Airlines

Spectrum also asked United about Delta’s idea – they didn’t respond.

So what’s next?

Incidents involving unruly passengers have been down almost 50% over the last two weeks. Southwest’s Jordan says the reasons for the drop aren’t clear He speculated it might be because it’s no longer peak summer season, so flights aren’t as full. He also suggested that crews are becoming more skilled at de-escalating tense situations were factors. 

“We’re heading in the right direction, so it’s very encouraging,” said Jordan.


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

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


DaninMCI September 29, 2021 - 7:06 am

We don’t need the Nazis to destroy us. We’re destroying ourselves. -Otto Frank

Jorge Paez September 29, 2021 - 3:45 pm

This “it’s other airlines problem” is truly head shaking idiocy. Fines? They are rarely levied and when they are few pay them, according to Gary Leff. The airlines have millions of customers, what’s wrong with banning a few thousand industry wide? SMH…..

R H September 30, 2021 - 6:24 am

Problems happen when people are surprised; when the reality does not match what they expect.

The people who are causing problems are mostly not setting out to cause problems; they just expected the mask requirements would not be enforced, as is mostly the case on the ground.

As the word spreads that Yes, the requirement is real, fewer people are being surprised by it, and so fewer are causing problems.

Airlines have put in promises to wear masks as part of the ticket-buying process, and remind people at check-in, yet still some just don’t get it. The news stories of people removed from flights or arrested on arrival are helping to inform them, but it’s problematic for the other passengers and of course for the crew.


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