Flight Attendants Are Pushing For Creation Of National No-Fly List To Ban Ill-Behaved Passengers

In an update from the head of the American Airlines flight attendants union, crewmembers were briefed on the union’s priorities, reflected in their discussions with Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

  • A third airline bailout, a small piece of which would fund paying workers at risk of furlough

  • Priority access to vaccines for flight attendants

  • A “a comprehensive ‘No-Fly List’ to further address threatening and abusive behavior on the airplane”

The proposed third airline bailout, currently a part of the stimulus package in the House of Representative, gives $15 billion more to airlines in exchange for not furloughing workers through September. The actual cost of keeping workers at-risk of furlough on payroll during that time at full pay and benefits is approximately $1 billion, the rest pocketed by airlines. (Since I don’t wish to debate the math, I’d stipulate $2 billion in payroll costs against a $15 billion bailout, much of which would go to airlines not furloughing anyone.)

The lack of merit in such a proposal is well-documented. And the issue of vaccine priority puts flight attendants into the same lobbying bucket as everyone else trying to fight over who should get special priority of those without as much political muscle. Fortunately (?) it shouldn’t be that long before we switch from people not being able to get vaccinated to begging people to go get vaccinated. (The union only “made it clear that Flight Attendants wishing to be vaccinated” get priority, emphasis mine.)

But under-covered perhaps is the desire for a national Do Not Fly list that’s no longer limited to national security as a justification. Now an individual airline may ban a passenger, the union wants such situations to mean the person is banned from all air travel (and then a next logical step: why should they be permitted on Amtrak or Greyhound if they’re such a threat?). They want

  • for “those who choose to act outside of this [behavioral] expectation need to face substantial consequences from the FAA.”

  • And “ensure that a passenger banned from one airline is not re-accommodated on another”

  • Not only should people be banned from flying when they engage in actions where that’s not spelled out as a punishment for their crime, but they should be banned upon simply being charged with some crimes, rather than convicted, including unrelated to aviation: “APFA strongly believes that those charged with crimes in relation to the riot of January 6 should be added to the DHS Terrorist Watchlist.”

These are the people meeting with the Secretary of Transportation. Who is representing your interests?

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. When will people realize that taking away people’s rights without due process is a path down which we should never want to go. Sure, right now that power might be used against people whom you dislike or disagree with, but it won’t be long before it is turned against you or someone you like/disagree with. Those who commit crimes should be charged with said crime, tried by a jury of their peers, and sentenced to the statutory punishment for the crime for which they were convicted. Anything beyond or outside of that is the stuff of dictators and banana republics.

  2. @Doug

    Except there are laws for when a person causes disturbances on a flight. Are those individuals always prosecuted? The rioters on Jan. 6, of whom many flew to DC, were causing disturbances on flights. FAs were outnumbered and could not do anything with those individuals. As I understand many were added to individual airlines’ “Do Not Fly” lists. They deserved to be added. Approx. 200 are being charged for their actions and they definitely deserve to be permanently banned.

    Put yourself in the FAs position. There are 3-4 FAs on a flight dealing with angry mob behavior. Endangering other passengers. I would expect those individuals to be banned so they cannot abuse FAs and passengers, again. Plain and simple. Act responsibly! Flying is privilege, not a right!

  3. @ JohnB “Rioters” what world are you living in? These were mostly peaceful protesters who represent the voices of the unheard.

  4. I have long resisted showing any ID as the purpose–the real purpose–is to prevent black marketing tickets. Americans should not have to present an internal passport for travel within their own country. The whole thing was sneaked in after Flight 800 went down; the feds were obviously just waiting for an excuse to implement it without any real justification. Anyway, the current no-fly lists are such a total overlapping mess that, as you have written elsewhere, it’s almost impossible to get an innocent person off them. And the implication is that existing security isn’t good enough anyway–if it were it really shouldn’t matter who flies. Reminds me of an article I once wrote on organized crime; I used several FBI lists for past identified members of crime families (all publicly available) and compared them with other published data. There were endless mistakes and misspellings in their names, whether they were alive or not and with how how many people were duplicated or missed entirely on one sheet or another.

  5. The AFPA’s letter to Buttigieg contains four points not three. The final point, Aviation Safety, is potentially the most important.

    In 2018, the Civil Aerospace Medical Institute (CAMI) conducted a study on minimum seat size and pitch,. The study was to determine if flight
    attendants could still meet the 90-second aircraft emergency evacuation standard, despite shrinking seat sizes and configurations. AFPA’s letter claims the results of the study have been concealed.

    Perhaps someone can shed light.

  6. @JohnB
    How many those who flew to DC tried to hijack an airplane? Watch any Spirit Airlines fight video on YouTube and see who really SHOULD be banned

  7. Can we please start a no fly list for abusive flight attendants then? I am very concerned that they start using the no flight list in personal vindictive purposes. There are so many instances when they have kicked people off the plane without any reason and now if they get to decide who does and who doesn’t t go on the no fly list they may really become out of control.

  8. @JohnB I am not an attorney but I am not sure you are correct about flying being a privilege and not a right. I would be interested to hear those more knowledgeable then me chime in. And even if a privilege, due process should be followed.

  9. Flying is not a privilege. The Common Carrier Act makes it a right. Either way due process is needed. But with the AFA recent support for the United info leaker about Ted Cruz, shows the AFA does not care about the law.

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