80 unruly plane passengers referred for possible US prosecution

A total of 80 unruly plane passengers have been referred to the FBI for possible criminal prosecution, the Federal Aviation Administration announced Wednesday, as onboard disruptions spiked sharply in 2021, many of which exceeded COVID mask requirements. -19.

The US Department of Justice has pledged to take a hard line, and some airlines and unions have called for a no-fly list that would bar passengers with a history of disruptions.

The FAA, which said last year it had referred 37 passengers to the FBI for review, said about 4,600 of the 6,400 reports of unruly passengers it received from the start of 2021 through the 15 February involve passengers not wearing masks as required.

The Justice Department said Wednesday it was prosecuting a record number of passengers for interfering with flight crews.

In fiscal year 2019, 20 defendants were charged, followed by 16 in 2020 and a record 21 in 2021. The ministry said nine defendants were charged in the first four months of the year. current budget.

Delta Air Lines chief executive Ed Bastian this month asked U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland to place passengers convicted of onboard disruptions on a nationwide no-fly list that would prevent them to travel in the future on any commercial airline.

Bastian said the action would “help prevent future incidents and serve as a strong symbol of the consequences of not following crew member instructions on commercial aircraft.”

Delta’s List

Delta has placed nearly 1,900 people on its no-fly list for refusing to comply with masking requirements and has submitted more than 900 banned names to the Transportation Security Administration to pursue civil penalties, Bastian said.

Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, which represents nearly 50,000 flight attendants at 17 airlines, said her union urges “the creation of a centralized list of passengers who cannot fly for a period of time after being fined or found guilty of a serious incident.”

The Justice Department said it is prioritizing the investigation and prosecution of those who have committed crimes that threaten the safety of passengers, flight crews and flight attendants.

Airlines have been discussing the possibility of a national no-fly list for months with federal agencies, but there is no indication of imminent action.

A group of eight Republican senators wrote to Garland on Monday, criticizing Delta’s flight ban proposal. They said it “results in a severe restriction on the ability of citizens to fully exercise their constitutional right to engage in interstate transportation.”

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