Passengers banned from U.S. airlines top 2,700, with dozens added in wake of Capitol riot

 Passengers banned from U.S. airlines top 2,700, with dozens added in wake of Capitol riot
(Source: Southwest, CNN)

(CBS News) - During an Alaska Airlines flight from Washington, D.C. to Seattle last week, a number of passengers refused to wear masks and harassed crew members, the airline said. In response, Alaska banned 14 of the passengers on that Thursday flight — just some of a growing number of disruptive passengers airlines are putting on their own no-fly lists. And now the Federal Aviation Administration has announced it will start taking legal action over such behavior going forward.

Calling those passengers “rowdy” and “argumentative,” Alaska Airlines said in a statement it has banned more than 300 passengers since August for violating its mask policy.

“Their behavior was unacceptable. Because of their actions and non-compliance, we have banned 14 of those passengers from future travel with us,” the airline said. “We apologize to our other guests who were made uncomfortable on the flight. We will not tolerate any disturbance on board our aircraft or at any of the airports we serve.”

The lists compiled by individual airlines — different from the federal no-fly list, which aims to block suspected terrorists from the skies — has swelled to more than 2,700 people, CBS News has confirmed.  The flight bans grew out of mask requirements put in place due to the coronavirus. Most flight bans will last until those mask policies are suspended at the end of the pandemic.

Many of the bans have occurred in the last week, after the violent riot at the U.S. Capitol.

The order signed Wednesday by FAA Administrator Steve Dickson means unruly passengers will no longer get a warning or counseling, which the agency said had been common practice in such incidents.

“The FAA has seen a disturbing increase in incidents where airline passengers have disrupted flights with threatening or violent behavior. These incidents have stemmed both from passengers’ refusals to wear masks and from recent violence at the U.S. Capitol,” the FAA’s announcement states.

The lists compiled by individual airlines — different from the federal no-fly list, which aims to block suspected terrorists from the skies — has swelled to more than 2,700 people, CBS News has confirmed.  The flight bans grew out of mask requirements put in place due to the coronavirus. Most flight bans will last until those mask policies are suspended at the end of the pandemic.

Many of the bans have occurred in the last week, after the violent riot at the U.S. Capitol.

The order signed Wednesday by FAA Administrator Steve Dickson means unruly passengers will no longer get a warning or counseling, which the agency said had been common practice in such incidents.

“The FAA has seen a disturbing increase in incidents where airline passengers have disrupted flights with threatening or violent behavior. These incidents have stemmed both from passengers’ refusals to wear masks and from recent violence at the U.S. Capitol,” the FAA’s announcement states.

Disruptions at airports have prompted authorities to ramp up security at airports and onboard aircraft, a government security source briefed on the matter tells CBS News — including additional air marshals on flights into and out of the three airports in the National Capitol region, and officers at the gates of flights into those airports.

Video shared on social media in the wake of the riot showed protesters at airports confronting Utah Senator Mitt Romney, a Republican who has condemned the attacks and criticized President Trump; South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, also a Republican; and Representative Lou Correa, a Democrat from California.

CBS News has confirmed airports across the country are enhancing security and stepping up police presence in their terminals following the violence at the U.S. Capitol.

U.S. Capitol Police are also detailing officers to Dulles International Airport, Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and Baltimore-Washington International Airport to help escort arriving and departing members of Congress.

By the numbers

CBS News asked U.S. airlines how many passengers have been banned since the implementation of mask requirements and compiled the answers below. While two of the largest carriers declined to give numbers, the total is more than 2,700 people.

Disruptions at airports have prompted authorities to ramp up security at airports and onboard aircraft, a government security source briefed on the matter tells CBS News — including additional air marshals on flights into and out of the three airports in the National Capitol region, and officers at the gates of flights into those airports.

Video shared on social media in the wake of the riot showed protesters at airports confronting Utah Senator Mitt Romney, a Republican who has condemned the attacks and criticized President Trump; South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, also a Republican; and Representative Lou Correa, a Democrat from California.

CBS News has confirmed airports across the country are enhancing security and stepping up police presence in their terminals following the violence at the U.S. Capitol.

U.S. Capitol Police are also detailing officers to Dulles International Airport, Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and Baltimore-Washington International Airport to help escort arriving and departing members of Congress.

By the numbers

CBS News asked U.S. airlines how many passengers have been banned since the implementation of mask requirements and compiled the answers below. While two of the largest carriers declined to give numbers, the total is more than 2,700 people.