You Could Get Banned From Flying for Doing This, Federal Official Warns
This infraction may not get you booted from just one airline.
From work trips to visiting family for the holidays, there are countless reasons you might need to book a flight. But flying is a privilege, and it's one that can actually be taken away from you. Airlines have banned different passengers in the past for a number of reasons, including trying to open plane doors while in the air and openly vaping mid-flight. But now a major federal official is proposing an overall no-fly list for passengers who do one particular thing, effectively prohibiting you from all flights. Read on to find out what could get you banned from flying altogether.
A federal official says you could get banned from flying for attacking a flight attendant.
During an Oct. 31 interview on CNN's State of the Union, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said that a federal no-fly list for unruly and violent passengers "should be on the table," meaning offenders would be permanently banned from flying in the U.S. Amid a rising number of violent passengers on airplanes, Buttigieg said that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) "will continue to look at all options to make sure that flight crews and passengers are safe."
"It is completely unacceptable to mistreat, abuse, or even disrespect flight crews," he said. "These flight attendants have been on the frontlines of the pandemic from day one. And they're up there, as the announcement always says, for your safety. There is absolutely no excuse for this kind of treatment of flight crews in the air."
An American Airlines passenger was recently banned for life for assaulting a flight attendant.
Buttigieg's statement follows the brutal assault of a female American Airlines flight attendant by a male passenger on an Oct. 27 American Airlines flight from New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport to John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California. Julie Hedrick, president of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, told The Washington Post that the incident occurred after the flight attendant had bumped the passenger accidentally while moving through the first-class cabin. Despite the flight attendant apologizing, the passenger left his seat, confronted her, and punched her in the face at least twice, according to Hedrick.
The plane had to be diverted to Denver, Colorado, where the passenger was detained and the flight attendant was taken to the hospital for several broken bones in her face. According to American Airlines, the passenger has since been banned for life from the airline and the company has also pursued criminal charges against him.
"The individual involved in this incident will never be allowed to travel with American Airlines in the future, but we will not be satisfied until he has been prosecuted to the full extent of the law," the airline said, per USA Today. "This behavior must stop, and aggressive enforcement and prosecution of the law is the best deterrent."
RELATED: For more travel news delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
Airlines don't normally share their lists of banned passengers.
Some travelers—like the American Airlines passenger—are already getting banned from specific airlines for unruly behavior and for refusing to wear masks. But according to CNN, airlines have not been sharing information with each other about the passengers they have banned. As of October, Delta Air Lines said it has banned more than 400 people for not following its mask policy, per CNN, while United said it had banned nearly 1,000 passengers for similar reasons as of September, according to Newsweek. As it stands, those banned Delta passengers could potentially still book a United flight, and vice versa. While the FBI currently manages a federal no-fly list which prevents travelers from booking any flights, this is designed to protect against known and suspected terrorists.
There has been a significant increase in unruly passengers this year.
The FAA has reported nearly 5,000 unruly passenger incidents this year, as of Oct. 26, with more than 3,500 being mask-related. Out of these reports, there have been 923 investigations initiated so far, which is more than six times the number of investigations in 2019 and more than five times those in 2020. And despite a no-fly list for unruly passengers not yet created, there are still consequences for these flyers. Earlier this year, the FAA announced a new "zero tolerance" policy in unruly behavior after seeing an uptick, proposing more than $1 million in fines against violent passengers over the last year, CNN reported.
According to the news outlet, President Joe Biden also announced that fines would double for those who harass flight attendants and don't comply with the U.S. federal transportation mask mandate. "If you break the rules, be prepared to pay," Biden said during a press conference at the time. "And by the way, show some respect. The anger you see on television toward flight attendants and others doing their job is wrong. It's ugly."