Delta CEO Ed Bastian has approached the U.S. Attorney General seeking to put unruly passengers on a terrorist list that would deny future travel across all airlines. This is mostly for show, but anyone concerned with civil liberties should e-mail Ed Bastian.
In the fall Delta Air Lines proposed that any passenger banned over masks from flying one airline should be banned by all airlines. American Airlines CEO scoffed at this notion in internal meetings, noting that each airline has different standards for banning passengers making this unworkable.
Delta’s CEO was responding to government pressure to come up with a plan to address incidents. His proposed national no fly list for unruly passengers amounted to acting as an agent of the government, creating due process problems. (It was no longer just ‘a private company choosing to deny service’).
I argued at the time that this effectively placed mask non-compliant passengers on a terrorism watch list (which by the way was recently leaked online and whose legality the ACLU is currently challenging). Nonetheless the Biden administration got behind the plan.
Now Delta CEO Ed Bastian has written to Attorney General Merrick Garland seeking a national no fly list. (Copy of letter.)
- He’d limit such a list to those passengers convicted of on board disturbances
- And he’d use terrorism lists for this purpose,
Delta noted there is currently a no-fly list that is a subset of the terrorism watch list that allows the U.S. government to prohibit persons considered a threat to civil aviation from traveling on airlines.
Less than 1% of people charged with mask incidents even wind up paying a fine. Most incidents never end up with criminal charges. That makes this whole effort mostly a sham. And yet it’s still highly problematic.
- If the consequence of criminal behavior is a lifetime ban from commercial air travel, that needs to be spelled out in the law. Congress needs to legislate it, rather than having the Administration impose it by fiat.
- Any conviction for any inflight disturbance leading to a lifetime ban which fundamentally inhibits the fundamental right to interstate travel would seem to have an eighth amendment problem. (On a right to travel see generally Crandall v. Nevada, 73 U.S. 35 (1868) and United States v. Guest, 383 U.S. 745 (1966). While the Supreme court hasn’t found a specific right to particular modes of transportation, placing restrictions on air travel from New York to California or Miami to Seattle would represent a substantial burden on these rights.)
- This doesn’t provide for any opportunity for convicts to be reformed. Do something stupid on a college trip to Cancun and you won’t be able to take a 50th anniversary cruise in Asia?
- Government no fly lists lack appeal and judicial review, and people have been placed on them by mistake or out of malice. In other words, even if it’s supposed to be limited to those convicted of a specific set of crimes, it may not be so limited and getting a clerical issue like that corrected becomes difficult or impossible.
I remember a time – just 13 months ago – when liberals were concerned with executive power, over fears what an unconstrained President might do with it.