While Delta CEO Ed Bastian means well in trying to prevent disruptive passengers from simply going from one airline to the next to wreak havoc, the dragnet approach is not the right one, as the current no-fly list clearly demonstrates.
Delta Air Lines Again Tries To Create New No-Fly List
Last year Delta floated the idea of creating a new national no-fly list to be shared amongst airlines that would prevent disruptive passengers from boarding any commercial flight in the USA. Last week, Bastian sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland asking for his office to help set up this new watchlist.
Bastian’s letter stated:
“In addition to the welcome increase in enforcement and prosecutions, we are requesting you support our efforts with respect to the much-needed step of putting any person convicted of an on-board disruption on a national, comprehensive, unruly passenger ‘no-fly’ list that would bar that person from traveling on any commercial air carrier.”
While it might seem reasonable to want to protect from the public from thugs in the air, it remains questionable for an airline to demand that no other airline do business with that customer.
(I’ve argued that point extensively here)
I continue to believe there’s a better alternative: prosecute immediately those who disturb flights and are kicked off. You want to disturb a flight? Fine, you’re going to get fined and potential jail time for doing so. Hold special night courts to expedite it. If every instance of misbehavior is actually followed through with swift and meaningful consequences, there should be little need to share “naughty” lists because passengers will not be repeat offenders.
I don’t trust airlines to effectively and fairly share intelligence, even if the end result would be utilitarian; that is providing the greatest good for the greatest number. Instead, we should use the mechanisms we have in place and aggressively punish those who act out on board with civil or criminal penalties.
The 9/11 era no-fly list has also shown us federal government disregard for due process, transparency, and frankly justice itself (read this horror story for example). I simply cannot support it, especially as we (hopefully) near the end stages of the pandemic and mask mandate.
The old adage may be “the power to tax is the power to destroy” but the power to add passengers to secretive lists with sketchy evidence is also the power to destroy. If someone acts up onboard, throw them in jail and fine the heck out of them. But blacklisting them, perhaps permanently, on all carriers is not a proportionate response nor a response anyone who values liberty and justice should be in favor of.