So far, Delta has put more than 1,600 people on its no-fly list, but shared the names of a smaller group of 600 as part of the FAA’s Special Emphasis Enforcement Program that can levy civil penalties on passengers who “assault, threaten, intimidate, or interfere with a crewmember” performing duties, in violation of federal law.
Dallas-based Southwest Airlines, the second-largest carrier in Atlanta, said it does not publicly disclose the details of its restricted fly list, but that it is working with its unions, other airlines and the FAA to brainstorm ways to further prevent unruly situations and it is “sharing best practices with other airlines.”
The number of unruly passenger incidents reported to the federal government has increased during the pandemic, and 3,199 of the 4,385 unruly passenger reports so far this year are related to mask requirements. Airlines began requiring masks last May, and President Joe Biden signed an order in January for a federal mask mandate on airplanes, in airports and for other forms of transportation.
The FAA said this week that the rate of unruly passenger incidents dropped sharply after it launched a zero-tolerance policy earlier this year but said the rate “remains too high.”
While reports of passengers punching flight attendants or trying to break into cockpits are alarming, such incidents are still rare. The FAA said there are about six unruly passenger incidents for every 10,000 flights — down 50% from early 2021, but twice as high as late 2020.