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Delta Air Lines calls for carriers to share names of unruly passengers

Delta says it has submitted the names of more than 600 banned passengers to the FAA

People sit at Salt Lake City International Airport last summer. (Rick Bowmer/AP)
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Delta Air Lines is calling for an industry-wide effort to keep passengers from boarding competitors’ flights after being banned for disruptive behavior.

So far this year, Delta says it has submitted the names of more than 600 banned passengers to the Federal Aviation Administration, which has sought to enforce rules against interfering with flight crews. The industry has seen a surge in poor behavior and banned passengers in recent months, with the bulk of incidents related to face mask requirements.

“We’ve also asked other airlines to share their ‘no fly’ list to further protect airline employees across the industry,” Delta said in a memo this week. “A list of banned customers doesn’t work as well if that customer can fly with another airline.”

The company did not say whether sharing of passenger lists should be through the federal government or among companies themselves, and declined to elaborate. Delta said it has more than 1,600 people on its internal no-fly list and did not clarify why it submitted fewer than that to the FAA.

Unruly airplane behavior prompted harsher penalties and more enforcement. People are still acting out.

At a House Transportation Committee hearing Thursday to address what officials called a “surge in air rage,” committee Chairman Peter A. DeFazio (D-Ore.) pressed a representative of Airlines for America, an industry trade group, on whether one airline can share its list of banned passengers with another airline.

Lauren Beyer, the group’s vice president for security and facilitation, said “there are legal and operational challenges with airlines sharing those lists amongst one another.” A spokeswoman did not immediately clarify the issues Friday.

Citing the problems raised by Beyer, DeFazio said “maybe we can have the FAA create a database and they can ask people to post to that, and then the airlines can access it in the future.”

Unruly airplane passengers are straining the system for keeping peace in the sky

The FAA was noncommittal about the idea Friday, saying in a statement the agency “is meeting with airports, airlines, unions, and others to discuss what additional steps the FAA and our industry partners can collectively take to continue driving down the number of unruly passenger incidents.”

The agency said its latest data shows a decline in the rate of unruly passenger incidents. It said that as of last week, incidents involving unruly passengers occurred about six times in every 10,000 flights.

“That’s an approximately 50 percent drop from early 2021, but it’s more than twice as high as the end of 2020,” the agency said Thursday.

In testimony submitted this week to the Transportation Committee, Sara Nelson, international president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, pointed to the “staggering” tally of about 4,300 unruly passenger reports in 2021. She called for the creation of “a centralized list of passengers who may not fly for some period of time, and provide airlines with access to the list.”

Nelson cited cases when passengers banned by one airline “promptly fly on another one, putting more crews, passengers and gate agents at risk and sending a message of lax (if any) oversight. This is not acceptable.”

American Airlines said it regularly shares information with the FAA, including the names of banned passengers. Alaska Airlines said it has submitted the names of disruptive passengers to the FAA as part of the agency’s enforcement work.

“Through our alliance with Airlines for America, we support a federal process to deny flying to those who present a risk to safety and security on board our aircraft,” Alaska said in a statement.

An FAA spokesman declined to say how many names of banned passengers it has received from airlines or how the agency uses that information.