American Airlines Bans Alcohol On Today’s DC Flights, Increases Staffing At Area Airports

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.

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.

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.

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. “I might be more concerned with all of the people flying, dispersing across the country, after participating in Covid-19 superspreader events.”

    May be a bit callous, but surely that’s natural selection at work?

    But, I feel sorry for any member of staff at airports, taxis, airlines, etc, caught up in this. I really do

  2. I might note that, unless you’re flying First Class, there is no alcohol available on AA domestic flights these days anyway.

    I would also note that there is no scientific evidence that any protests, including the BLM protests, resulted in additional community spread of Covid. It always seems like wishful thinking from the people who opposed the protest.

  3. Most of them took buses. Trust me, they are everywhere around us in DC. With banners and hate flying from each. Most seem to be leaving, thank god, as they need to get back to their trailer parks and compounds soon given they left their dogs chained to fences at home and the kids unattended. Oh, and Walmart is having a sale on camo hunting jackets…can’t miss that!

  4. @Alan. Yep, it is. As a resident of DC and witnessing these thugs first hand – and the mob that ensued – you bet I am hateful now. The time to be nice/patient to these people ended yesterday afternoon.

  5. @ Stuart You realize the same screed could have been written about the BLM protests, right? “Most of them arrived in stolen cars. Trust me, they are everywhere around us in DC. With signs and hate. Most seem to be leaving, thank god, as they need to get back to their crack dens and hovels where they left their dogs chained to fences at home and the kids unattended. Oh, and Walmart is having a sale on watermelon…can’t miss that!”

    Online discourse in America these days.

  6. @Stuart Thats the right thing to do…insult 70+ million people.

    Why does the left always resort to name calling?

  7. @chopsticks. Well, having witnessed them both, with the exclusion of the small band of rioters that attached themselves to BLM, the vast majority of BLM protesters were peacefully gathering and marching. From my perch on 14th NW, trust me, I was in the heart of it all and saw. Yes, there were idiots. But they were far outnumbered by peaceful and reasonable protestors. Further, protesting what is systemic racism in this country and the murders that are a result. Not idiotic conspiracy theories.

    This was not the same. This was not a small band of extremists within the Trump hold that attacked. This was the vast majority of them that violently stormed the Capitol and threatened our Democracy. Egged on by a deranged leader.

    Let’s not mix apples and oranges.

  8. @Stuart – well said.

    Also, the fact that you the vast majority of BLM protests were peaceful, yet still gassed & shot with rubber bullets, contrasted with Trump’s (white) Terrorists who had free reign to attack the Capitol, and were gently escorted in and out (with 13 whole arrests)….tells you PRECISELY why the BLM movement exists.

  9. @ Stuart — Given your previous screed, you have the credibility of a CNN or MSNBC reporter. Which is why our country has the political divisions it has now.

  10. BLM “peaceful protests” during the 2020 “Summer of Love” caused well over $2 Billion in damages and at least 30 deaths. And they were cheered on by the mainstream media, witness Chris Cuomo of CNN stating how that violence was necessary.

  11. Love how Trumpettes like Hunter always cry “the left called me names”.
    Of course when their own dear leader does so, they cheer.

  12. @chopstick, maybe one of these days, you will grow up and not stereotype African Americans. Maybe if you’d get your head out of your behind, you’d see that the BLM movement is for police brutality. Grow up….

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