Several conflicts happened on planes with passengers heading to DC ahead of Congress counting electoral votes and declaring Joe Biden the next President of the United States.
Whether it was heckling Mitt Romney on Delta or a maskless party on Southwest, the incidents weren’t limited to any single airline. But American Airlines is by far the largest carrier at close-in Washington National airport.
We saw TRUMP 2020 broadcast onto the ceiling of an American Airlines plane, passengers kicked off over masks as well as taking a megaphone to lead passengers in song.
And so it begins.
On a plane from TX —> DC flight attendants are struggling to control a plane full of Trump supporters as they display a pro-Trump projection and harass others passengers bound for DC.
— Maranie R. Staab (@MaranieRae) January 6, 2021
We have a whole MAGA flight, full of patriots headed to DC! Let’s get the party going! pic.twitter.com/YdNWWTRajZ
— Errol Webber For CA Governor (@ErrolWebber) January 5, 2021
Things got out of control on Capitol Hill on Wednesday. People stormed the building as votes were counted. People. Died.
In response American is adding staff at DC airports as they work closely with the TSA and law enforcement to prepare for a potentially combustible situation as people fan back out from DC across the country. Flight crew layovers were moved out of downtown hotels.
They’re also eliminating alcohol from their DC flights. It’s not clear why this is an issue on flights heading to DC at this point, it’s really only about the people who scaled the Capitol leaving the area.
American Airlines tells me,
At American, safety is our highest priority. We are working closely with local law enforcement and airport authority partners to ensure the safety of our customers and team members on the ground and in the air. We have also increased staffing at DC-area airports as a precautionary measure and will not be serving alcohol on flights to and from this area. We will continue to enforce policies that ensure our customers’ and team members’ safety and wellbeing.
I might be more concerned with all of the people flying, dispersing across the country, after participating in Covid-19 superspreader events.
@HyattConcierge @Hyatt @GrandHyattDC — This does not inspire confidence in the commitment of your brand and associated properties, and directly contradicts your assurances about COVID-19 safety. https://t.co/6nArGC2F5i
— Tiffany Funk (@tebfunk) January 7, 2021
Meanwhile union agitator Sara Nelson wants protestors banned from flying.
“Some of the people who traveled in our planes yesterday participated in the insurrection at the Capitol today,” Nelson said in the statement. “Their violent and seditious actions at the Capitol today create further concern about their departure from the DC area.”
She continued: “Acts against our democracy, our government, and the freedom we claim as Americans must disqualify these individuals from the freedom of flight.”
Now, anyone who stands in the way of peaceful transition of power stands against freedom. However,
- Nelson’s response – to capriciously deny freedom of travel to people outside of the rule of law – is a mob response and no better than that of the protestors.
- It fails to draw a distinction between people who exercised their first amendment right of protest and those who acted illegally and violently.
- And how exactly are we supposed to identify everyone? Should we create a facial recognition police state and feed that information into the databases of private airlines? (Airlines of course are developing their own facial recognition boarding systems, and data sharing with the government already, scary stuff.)
We need to respond to crimes against the rule of law with a commitment to – rather than a dismantling of – the rule of law. The last thing we need is an open-ended response, like a new Patriot Act or limits on freedom of speech. Nelson, a Bernie Sanders supporter, would be wise to remember how sedition laws were used against Eugene Debs, sending him to prioon for an inflammatory speech in wartime that didn’t directly encourage violence. And she should remember the crackdown on the Socialist Workers Party for anti-capitalist and antiwar rhetoric in World War II.
Taking away the freedom to travel from people whose speech you dislike is a dangerous precedent. Those who have committed crimes should be charged, tried, and punished under existing law. Americans shouldn’t have freedoms taken from them when they haven’t even been charged with a crime.