Delta Air Lines is asking the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) to put airline passengers convicted of disrupting flights on a national no-fly list, barring them from traveling on any commercial flights, according to the letter obtained Friday by several news outlets.
In the letter, dated Thursday and first reported by Reuters, Delta CEO Ed Bastian told Attorney General Merrick Garland that such a move would “help prevent future incidents and serve as a strong symbol of the consequences of not complying with crew member instructions on commercial aircraft.”
Last year, officials with the Federal Aviation Administration began a zero-tolerance campaign against unruly passenger behavior amid a spike in reports nationwide. As part of the campaign, officials bypass their regular process of sending warning letters in favor of immediately fining unruly passengers.
In 2021, the FAA initiated nearly 1,100 investigations into unruly passenger behavior, more than the number launched in the previous seven years combined. The agency received nearly 6,000 reports of airline passengers acting out, a vast majority of which were related to mask requirements put into place to stem the spread of COVID-19.
Nearly 1,900 people have been put on Delta’s no-fly list for refusing to comply with masking requirements, Bastian said in the letter sent to Garland, according to a copy published by Axios. He added that the airline has called for its aviation partners to share their own no-fly lists to prevent those people from traveling on other airlines.
“While such cases represent a small fraction of overall flights, the rate of incidents with unruly passengers on Delta has increased nearly 100 percent since 2019,” Bastian said in the letter. “We fully support using the full force of the law in these cases.”
In November, Garland directed authorities to prioritize prosecuting crimes committed on commercial airplanes that endangered passengers, flight crews and flight attendants.
“Passengers who assault, intimidate or threaten violence against flight crews and flight attendants do more than harm those employees; they prevent the performance of critical duties that help ensure safe air travel,” Garland said last year in a statement.