Delta announced an effort to unify US carriers to make their own no-fly list for misbehaving passengers. However, execution will make this good intention a very bad idea.
If you are considering booking travel or signing up for a new credit card please click here. Both support LiveAndLetsFly.com.
If you haven’t followed us on Facebook or Instagram, add us today.
Delta’s No-Fly List Proposal
Delta Air Lines has answered the government’s request for a plan to end the unruly air rage incidents plaguing flights across the United States. The company has banned 1,600 people since the beginning of the pandemic and has proposed to share its list of banned customers with other carriers.
The concern is that if an unruly passenger is banned from Delta Air Lines, for example, they can simply fly with another airline next time which doesn’t end or adequately punish the behavior. If a customer can fly with American next time, why should they stop their tantrums and disruptions?
If Delta were to share their no-fly list with other carriers, it could leave both the carrier and its airline passengers in a compromised position. Another carrier wouldn’t necessarily have to honor the list, though there’s an obvious advantage to in so doing in the current climate.
Something Has To Change
Delta has put forward a plan, and frankly, kudos to them for coming up with something. Something has to change, and it has to change now. The kind of behavior we have seen taking place on airlines in the last two years is in some cases deplorable. It’s not all down to mask issues, though that seems to be a tinderbox for some flyers who apparently didn’t know what they signed up for when they bought their ticket.
We have seen fights breaking out in terminals and on planes. Flight attendants are often on the receiving end of whatever wrath a flyer chooses to bestow and that’s not part of their job description. I, along with every other blogger I know, desperately want to see a return to civility and none of us can pinpoint when, where, and why the degradation of decorum began. These incidents aren’t limited to discount carriers, though Spirit gets an unfair amount of attention for incidents on its aircraft. It has happened on every carrier in the US, with or without mask-related incidents.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has instituted steep fines for bad behavior that can reach into the tens of thousands. There is also the government’s no-fly list which is typically used for the most egregious offenses, including suspected terrorists.
Why Delta’s No-Fly List Will Fail
I can’t reiterate it enough, at least Delta is suggesting something. However, my fear is really down to who decides what constitutes a problematic customer, what the process is for disputing such a claim, and who maintains, distributes, and updates that list.
In the US, all airlines are common carriers. They are limited in which customers they can exclude from their business. Air travel is a mode of transportation operated for the collective good by for-profit companies (though no one told American Airlines that.) Where the real problem lies is that banning a customer from a mode of transportation could have far-reaching consequences not only for the traveler but others as well.
If a customer was banned from all carriers, are they relegated to Amtrak or Greyhound to get to a dying relative? What about the impact on their job status and the companies they work for? I don’t believe that companies would be able to both avoid lawsuits and government scrutiny (even though the government asked for a plan) if they unilaterally decide what mode of transportation a US person is allowed.
Who Decides the Validity of An Event
This may be the biggest issue with the process. Matthew and I recently reflected on the rare incidents we have had in our thousands of commercial flights. We have both had an issue with a crew member whereby they returned false information to the rest of the crew and threatened or succeeded in removing us from flights for incidents that did not involve a violation of airline policy let alone civil nor criminal law.
In Matthew’s case, had this policy been allowed, he might not have ever flown again. In my recent issue, where I was accused of having a lowered mask (it was dropping while I was answering an FA’s question and replaced each time), the witnesses around me would have been more than happy to attest that it was a case of a rogue employee and not a passenger disruption. But what’s the process of disputing such a claim from an airline employee? And wouldn’t an airline be more apt to believe their employee than a passenger, regardless of whether that employee accurately assessed the situation?
The current no-fly list is not good. It’s so bad, in fact, that the government has to come up with a “redress number” for cases of people that should not be on the no-fly list, but due to governmental bureaucracy, cannot be removed just given a number that acknowledges they can indeed fly.
What happens when all carriers using different technology of various stages of advancement try to cohesively establish and follow a list? The government can’t effectively do this, how will competitors?
There would have to be a manner by which a passenger could defend themselves and dispute the claims. Some third-party would have to be involved to assess the validity of the initial claim, its severity, and whether it warrants an all-out domestic travel restriction.
There exists a legal, better alternative. The FAA has introduced new, steep fines and criminal penalties for unruly passengers. The issue is that the government doesn’t often issue those stiff penalties. Law enforcement awaiting the aircraft upon landing may scare the passenger into compliance, but rarely are the penalties levied.
Levy the penalties -just follow through. That’s all the government, airlines, and law enforcement need to do. They have increased the penalty to add teeth to their threats, but then they don’t bite and punish the bad actors. So bite.
Just 34 incidents of nearly 4,000 reported have received fines – do more. While Delta is putting forward an option, they are not the police and cannot force the FAA to follow through on its own rules. For the government to suggest it’s up to airlines – who have forwarded these cases to the authorities who have largely done nothing – to come up with an actionable plan when the FAA’s own plan simply isn’t executed by the same agencies, is laughable.
I once more commend Delta on stepping up with an idea. Unfortunately, in practice, it will not work the way it is intended. It assumes that all incidents are valid, that all are of a certain severity, and that the punishment should be substantial and potentially irreversible. It’s too harsh and does not allow for the possibility that not all suggested of being unruly truly are.
What do you think? Is Delta’s plan a good one? We all agree that change needs to happen but is this the way? What about enforcing the laws on the books?
I agree that implementation and potential abuses of the list are likely the largest obstacles of this idea.
But I disagree with your implication that we have a “right” to fly and that relegating someone to train or bus is unfair. If someone truly belongs on that list then they should not be allowed to fly period. The downstream consequences to the person, their companies are all something the offender has to be responsible for.
Didn’t banks in some places do the blacklisting thing to warn some other banks about an unwanted customer type?
I don’t like the idea of cross-company blacklisting, but aren’t we already sort of there also with credit reports used as the means for trying to block a trouble customer from becoming another company’s trouble too?
Bad Idea!!!. here’s a better one: Delta, stick to transporting passengers from point A to point B and shut the hell up!! Law enforcement: Do your goddamned jobs!!! To hell with all “no fly lists”!!
I like it. Maybe if Delta gave passengers, coach and premium, more than water and cheez-its and stop having mass operational meltdowns and delays due to stopping maybe they can also prevent customers from acting a fool.
Also, if airlines just stopped flying to and from Miami we would probably reduce domestic in-flight shenanigans by 2/3rds. Modern problems require modern solutions.
*delays due to staffing.* …Don’t know why I put “stopping”
Yeah, it must be easy to run an airline operation. Surely there is no potential for disruptions… This is an imperfect world.
The people acting out aren’t doing it because they aren’t getting snacks. No different than “no shirt, no shoes, no service”.
Aren’t US Marshalls still on flights from the earlier days of terrorism. While this bad behavior is not terrorism in its original definition, to me it still qualifies. Why not step up the US Marshall program…at least on flights between points that statistically have already proven to have a greater chance of having a misbehaving passenger aboard?
@John – This is a fair point, and I wonder if we don’t see more of those instances because they don’t escalate due to the Marshalls presence or if there are few of them flying. It seems to me that we paid for a lot of Marshalls over the years (as Gary Leff has cited) and now that we truly need them, they do seem to be missing in action.
How about airlines just be sure and have the person arrested and jailed at the first available opportunity (on landing or diversion) ? Airlines have tons of lawyers – they can go to court for conviction against dangerous, disruptive passengers. Again, ARREST and JAIL, not slapped on the wrist . Shoot first, ask questions later. If companies and police would ENFORCE their own LAWS, this may come to a grinding halt or severely limit the number of incidences. Why are all other passengers paying the price of one or two unstable/ undisciplined/ uncivilized morons and mental cases with disruptions just because of not enforcing laws ??? Laws are with us all for a reason – without them there would be nothing but chaos 24/7 everywhere. Alas, though, I think we are almost at that point – BECAUSE EVERYONE SEEMS SO AFRAID TO ENFORCE !
I said it yesterday but it bears repeating. The path forward is along the lines of what Matthew suggested – have fed and state prosecutors be more aggressive in seeking criminal charges for actual disorderly conduct onboard, and then if you’re convicted or plead guilty, you lose your air travel privileges. That’s a much better system than expecting the airlines to administer a no-fly list fairly (hint: they won’t, and you can’t trust them to do so as long as they won’t clean their own houses of rogue employees).
just enforce what is already in existence and it will go away. We agree.
If the FAa and the airlines were truly interested in the safety of their crew and their passengers, they could implement a law/rule that is printed on every ticket and says,” if a passenger endangers a flight for what ever reason, they will not be allowed to fly on any US airline for a period of x years.” That would stop this behavior immediately. Who wants these passengers on any flight anyway? No one,
So let me get this straight. You are against a no fly list because of its potential for abuse by employees, but you want criminal penalties?
Do you not see the obvious problem with that? If crew is willing to lie to get you on the list, why wouldn’t they lie to the police?
I’m all for a no fly list. If the person has to fly for work or to be with family – don’t get on the list. If you do, leave the driving to greyhound.
No way. Ripe for abuse… Sure. But it won’t be as why would a company abuse baning people it needs for revenue.
The people on the list have proven through actions to be poor citizens and fail to abide by simple rules. It
This is a great idea.
You wouldn’t be writing this article if you were a flight attendant, trust me. I’m a flight attendant and I’ve seen a passenger rip out a seat in coach as well as a jump seat on a recent flight. Some passengers are very disrespectful and don’t allow you to do your job and the FA’s number one job is safety.
If they get their flying privileges taken away, too bad. These adults need to stop acting like children. Put the mask on like everyone else and stop fighting on flights so we wouldn’t have to have unnecessary delays. I just don’t understand why these rules are so hard to follow. I really hope they implement these no fly lists for FA’s (Flight Crew) and passengers safety. I, personally like for all of us to have an enjoyable flight experience as well.
@Lisa – Thanks for reading and for commenting. First, I mentioned that the passengers who are exhibiting behavior such as you’ve described are a completely different issue. They should be prosecuted under the law and the stiffer penalties the FAA has outlined. Ripping a coach and a jump seat out? They deserve to be on a no-fly list.
However, there are others who should not be barred from travel due to overzealous colleagues of yours. For example, should this two-year-old and her family be barred from travel for following the policy of the airline and FAA? One would say “of course not, they were complying” yet the FA was successful in having them removed from the aircraft without a violation of policy, what would prevent their names from making a list? https://liveandletsfly.com/spirit-airlines-kicks-off-family/
Then there’s this one: https://liveandletsfly.com/southwest-airlines-glue-stick/ and this one: https://liveandletsfly.com/american-airlines-asthma-mask/
And of course, the two mentioned in the post were also not violations of law nor policy yet the crew was able to do whatever they liked. What you’re describing has to stop, we all agree on that. And we all agree that the laws are there on the books and simply need to be enforced. Where we disagree is that airline employees should have unilateral abilities to bar people from an entire mode of transportation with little to no known recourse without an offense being committed.
Nobody has the right to fly. If they can’t act normal then boot them off ALL airlines. Is it that hard to behave? Maybe they should have thought about that before acting like A-holes. Make them take Greyhound….good riddance, they won’t be missed.
In one of the articles it stated that the family wouldn’t remain seated along with the two year old refusing to wearing a mask. That’s the other problem right there. There are certain times called “critical phases of flight” or turbulence where the passengers must remain seated because they can seriously injure themselves. And if they don’t, we have to let the pilot know so they don’t try to take off or land. That’s why he/she probably added that to the report. I just wanted to mention that.
But as far as a 2 year old not wearing a mask? I doubt the family would be blacklisted for that. I thought the blacklist is for unruly passengers? And they could always dispute it. And I don’t agree with the overzealous flight attendant and my fellow FAs and I are always trying to practice compassion as much as possible, especially when it comes to children. However, we are told that everyone must be compliant. Everyone. As FAs, we are watched ALL THE TIME. We have to set examples so that other passengers don’t start removing their masks. When one person does it, it makes other passengers uncomfortable and they actually do tell on the offending passenger and expects us to do something about it. Other times, someone from the head office could be on that flight, like the CEO, or other FAs and they could report you too. It’s not always about a power trip. Sometimes people just don’t want to lose their job.
Now, if the adult is not wearing a mask, that’s a different story because they know the policy before they even step into an airport. I don’t feel bad if they are blacklisted.
Really deltas plan is really poor. It sounds more like an attempt at vigilante justice, than an attempt to solve a problem. With no due process it will subject the airlines to class lawsuits they will rightfully lose.
It is not your (one’s) right to fly on an airplane. And denying ridership is not something the airline takes lightly. Perhaps flight attendants should wear body cameras and publicly broadcast misbehavior. The example of a slipping mask is a bit lame, (that means it wasn’t fitting properly).
Mask monitoring should not even be a duty. Wear the damn mask and SFU!
If nothing is done across all airlines people will start to avoid flying altogether, for airlines doing nothing is eventually a losing proposition.