A.C.T.: The Acronym American Airlines Uses To Ban Unruly Passengers

About three weeks ago one of the most viral American Airlines altercations – out of many – took place. A passenger assaulted an employee and gate D23 itself before storming off and then returning to heap more abuse.

What was most remarkable about the incident is how long it took for police to respond. What I hadn’t known was the rest of the story. As discussed at an American Airlines internal question and answer session with flight attendants last week, a recording of which was reviewed by View From The Wing, it appears that this passenger still flew to London – on American Airlines.

Airline President Robert Isom offered that ‘if the incident is as-described’ then “please make sure that customer has been banned. We’ll take care of that.” It’s a little bit late, and other executives acknowledged that law enforcement was extremely slow to respond and only eventually caught up with the passenger at baggage claim.

However Vice President of Inflight Brady Byrnes went on to explain the different processes that the airline has for banning passengers. First off, there are (2) different banned passenger lists.

  1. Mask compliance. These passengers who refuse to wear a mask are banned from flying the airline at least until the mask mandate has been lifted. They may be unwilling to follow the airline’s and federal rules about masks, but they might be otherwise peaceful.

  2. Misconduct. “Any physical threat, touching, name calling that’s misconduct.”

The discussion was prompted by a flight attendant asking about a passenger reported to be unruly, where he was told that the passenger wouldn’t be allowed to fly, but continued on with their American Airlines journey anyway.

Byrnes explained that “the number one thing that we ask the flight attendants to do is fill out a CERS report. Why? That is what triggers the entire investigation process with corporate security.” In the past the airline didn’t follow up with flight attendants who filled out a report, but the airline is working to change that. Now “each flight attendant who fills out a CERS report due to misconduct will be afforded continuous updates up to and through the end of the investigation process.”

The airline won’t announce the number of people on ‘do not fly’ lists but it is “multiple-folds over where [American Airlines was] in 2019.”

When you a flight attendant fills out a report on a passenger, Byrnes told them to remember the acronym A.C.T.:

  • Accurate information
  • It has to be Corroborated by a fellow crewmember (for legal purposes “to ensure that when we put somebody on the ‘do not fly’ list it sticks, there’s no legal challenge”)
  • Timely, the faster the report gets into the system, the faster corporate security can investigate, the faster a passenger can be stopped from traveling on the airline.

Bobbi Wells, the airline’s new Vice President of Safety, reiterated the airline’s lobbying the FAA and airports to no longer sell ‘to go’ alcohol.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. If the FAA had any sense of responsibility, let alone common sense, there would be a vaccination requirement to fly international and domestic. 1). It would slow the spread of COVID 2) It would wee the trumptards off the airplanes that are creating the miserable unsafe flying experience. Finally, we may be able to rid ourselves of the mask on the aircraft, thereby relieving the Flight Attendants to babysit the idiots. (See note 2).

    Further, Steve Dickson is clutching his pearls insofar as alcohol in “TO-GO” cups. If his organization had ANY moxie, they would just ban the practice. Airport concessionaires should NOT be making the call. They have a captive audience and make enough off the sale of booze to a captive audience.

    These are just a couple of effective ideas to cut down the buffoonery. Unfortunately, the US government and airline executives lack the leadership to get COVID and unruly passengers under control.

  2. @K Helldoge – first of all I agree w a vaccine mandate to fly. However you over reached with the “trumptard” reference. If you actually reviewed most of the videos of altercations related to masks most of the participants have one thing in common and I seriously doubt they voted for Trump.

    Please get over the bias and don’t try to paint everyone you disagree with as a “trump” loyalists. He is gone – get over it

  3. @AC Not blaming Trump for everything wrong in the world would require people to actually look at things critically. Unfortunately, I don’t see that happening any time soon.

  4. @AC, sadly until Trump has his (well deserved) stroke and fades from the stage, he is not gone.

    That said, certainly the overwhelming majority of Trump supporters who are flying are complying with the mandate, whether they like it or not. Can’t ask for much more than that.

  5. Okay, children. The story is about an out of control individual and lack of police response. Let’s stay on topic.
    For the record the FAA doesn’t have any authority in what you’re talking about and it’s already illegal to consume any alcohol in flight unless it’s served by a company flight attendant.
    The information and rules are all available, to read at your leisure, on line.

  6. I love people who probably pride themselves on being enlightened using slurs based on the word “retard.” Do they understand that they’re a bigot?

  7. People defending Trump accuse people who are anti Trump of being bias. Bias for insulting a racist reactionary who praises Robert E. Lee. What a joke when only a racist would defend Trump, Dee you are an evil woman defending such a vile racist

  8. Yah, you overreached on the Trumptard. I happen to like Trump as opposed to the evil in the WH but hey it’s your country too, but there are some religious types and even really smart people who refuse to vaccinate.

  9. Better check with your BLM superiors before you get to far down the road of requiring the vax to fly–they might consider it to be racist. The recent incident in a NY restaurant showed that the racism charge will trump (can I still use that word???) the vax requirement.

  10. @joanie adams
    If I had to choose evil in the WH between Sleepy Joe and Chump it would be number45.
    It wouldn’t be even close. There are no smart people who choose Chump the number 1
    A-Hole of the world.

  11. Nixon 2024! – He’s tanned, he rested, he’s a little moldy, and he’ll have been dead for 30 years, so he won’t be causing any trouble. We could do worse – and we have!

  12. I support punishing passengers who physically attack or threaten physical harm against any employee – airlines/ hotels/ police/ etc. verbal name calling is a slippery slope though and I definitely think more verbal altercations between customers and employees may actually help customer service in the long run. Definitely need to call out the @ssholes where there is one – on both sides of the customer/employee spectrum.

  13. First of all direct confrontation threatening bodily harm should be taken seriously. I had personal experience. The FDA has issued an EUA for only one type of mask. So if they stop infection where are the bio hazard containers and means of disposal? No currently available vaxx has the required Vaccine Information Statement IAW 42 USC S300aa-26 (d).Therefore they are Optional! Anyone who states otherwise is advocating. an illegal operation. Ones who single out unvaxxed advocate medical apartheid.

  14. Just to be clear, the person in the video is a disabled combat veteran suffering from PTSD. The person was arrested and then brought to a VA hospital for examination and observation and was ultimately released.

    Any person who is suffering from mental illness might become violent. It is improper to include such persons with the unruly crowd. Bad choice of illustration. That being said, it is a reasonable argument to say that this person’s medical condition prevents him from flying until such time he is cleared by his doctors.

    Now, Gary’s article is about how one airline categorizes a person as unruly and places the person on its no-fly list. What does this have to do with politics? What does this have to do with who is in office? The odds are that the flight attendants who have to deal with unruly persons are 40 percent pro-Trump, 40 percent pro-Biden, and 20 percent something else. The odds are that the unruly persons are 40 percent pro-Trump, 40 percent pro-Biden, and 20 percent something else.

    Gary’s next article will be about the return of hot meals. Somehow, some way, the discussion about the vegetable mix will make its way to immigration policy. Rather than discussing solutions that would be acceptable to all — and promoting domestic tranquility — both sides offer venom . . . and you are all behaving as a certain Russian wants. In the same way that the certain Russian used Facebook as a tool to spread civil discontent and polarity, he is doing it with these blogs.

    Is that what you really want?

    Take a deep breath and consider this.

  15. Tim J, I do not discount your observations. He might well have also been drunk — suffering from PTSD and drunk. I saw the actual television news report that recounted the story after the individual was taken into custody. I don’t have any ax to grind — just offering additional context.

    In either case, the remainder of my comments stand. The offenders are a cross-section. The enforcers are a cross-section.

    “If you must break the law, do it to seize power: in all other cases observe it.”

  16. Few critical thinkers on this site- Still happy they placed a vote for a dementia ridden head of a crime family who proceeds to shred the constitutional guarantees unique to what was once a nation of freedom lovers. Is ignorance really bliss?

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