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Lawmakers are proposing a no-fly list for travelers who assault flight crew under a bill released Wednesday.
Unruly passenger incidents on planes have spiked since the pandemic. The legislation, from Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), is aimed at banning offenders and deterring future attacks.
“If you are going to terrorize a cabin full of innocent passengers or knock out a flight attendant’s teeth, then understand this, you will forfeit your chance to fly,” Reed said. “We want everyone to have a smooth, safe, boring flight.”
The Transportation Security Administration would manage the no-fly list, and convicted violent passengers would also be banned from the TSA PreCheck and Global Entry trusted traveler programs, according to the bill. The House legislation is supported by Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), and Swalwell said he expects other lawmakers from both parties to back it.
There were nearly 6,000 reports of unruly passengers in 2021, a big increase compared to previous years. The Federal Aviation Administration imposed a zero tolerance policy as a result.
Masking has been linked to a surge in the number of disruptive passengers on flights. The Biden administration recently extended the mask mandate on public transportation until April 18, and hasn’t said whether it will be extended again. The lawmakers said the bill would still be needed without a mask mandate.
“We actually think the mask requirement on planes will be lifted relatively soon and when it is, you are still going to have the risk of in-flight violence,” Swalwell said.
The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, which represents about 50,000 flight attendants, endorsed the legislation. Sara Nelson, president of the group, said more must be done to address the problem.
“Right now, a passenger can be fined or convicted, and may be banned on an individual airline—but that does not prevent this violent offender from flying another airline. This bill would change that,” Nelson said in a statement Wednesday.
The Washington-Baltimore News Guild, which is affiliated with the Communications Workers of America, represents employees of Bloomberg Government.
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