RICH THOMASELLI | TravelPulse.Com
Troy Warren for CNT #Travel
A series of aviation-related industry leaders testified before Congress this week and are asking lawmakers to enact a universal no-fly list for unruly passengers.
“If there is not a no-fly list … people are going to continue to assault plane crews and gate agents,” Transport Workers Union of America president John Samuelsen said, according to the Washington D.C.-based publication The Hill.
Samuelson spoke in a virtual Zoom testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security’s Subcommittee on Transportation and Maritime Security. The hearing was centered on the theme of ‘On the Frontlines in Turbulent Times: Workforce Perspectives on the State of Transportation Security.’
A no-fly list by the federal government would protect flight attendants, crew members, gate agents and more who have been subject to an unprecedented year of verbal and physical attacks by passengers.
The Hill reported that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has received an almost-unbelievable 5,240 reports of unruly passengers this year as of November 16. In a normal year, the FAA processes about 100 to 150 such cases.
“We are on track to log more incidents of disruptive airline passengers in 2021 than we have seen in the history of aviation,” said Sara Nelson, International President of the Association of Flight Attendants union. “While the number of bad actors is relatively small, the incidents of disruptions have been so pervasive (that) Flight Attendants wonder every morning they put on their uniform whether it will be a sign of leadership and authority in the cabin to keep everyone safe, or a target for a violent attack.”
Nelson, Samuelson and others are calling on the federal government to institute a universal list of the worst of unruly passengers similar to the no-fly list for terrorist threats. They believe the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) should oversee the list and prevent any individual convicted of airplane-related crimes from flying.
Individual airlines have created their own no-fly lists and have banned passengers, but Nelson, among others, has called for airlines to share that information with each other – and honor the no-fly list by their colleagues.
Airlines for America, the industry lobby group, said in a statement to The Hill: “Although the vast majority of passengers comply with all crew instructions, we continue to collaborate with our government partners at the FAA, TSA and other relevant agencies to identify additional actions that can be taken across the aviation ecosystem to prevent and respond to unruly passenger incidents.”