Delta CEO wants U.S. to put convicted unruly passengers on ‘no-fly’ list

FILE PHOTO: A Delta Airlines passenger jet approaches to land at LAX in Los Angeles
A Delta Airlines passenger jet approaches to land at LAX during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Los Angeles, California, U.S., April 7, 2021.
REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

Delta Air Lines wants the U.S. government to place passengers convicted of on-board disruptions on a national “no-fly” list that would bar them from future travel on any commercial airline, according to a letter seen by Reuters.

Delta Chief Executive Ed Bastian, in a previously unreported letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, said the action “will help prevent future incidents and serve as a strong symbol of the consequences of not complying with crew member instructions on commercial aircraft.”

The request comes amid a record spike in disruptive passengers reported over the last 13 months. The Justice Department did not immediately comment.

In November, Garland directed federal prosecutors to prioritize prosecution of airline passengers committing assaults and other crimes aboard aircraft.

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.

The Federal Aviation Administration said last year it had taken a “zero tolerance” approach and referred more than three dozen unruly passengers to the FBI for potential criminal prosecution.

Bastian said Delta has placed nearly 1,900 people on Delta’s “no-fly” list for refusing to comply with masking requirements and submitted more than 900 banned names to the Transportation Security Administration to pursue civil penalties.

Delta previously called on other airlines to share their unruly passenger “no fly” list to ensure individuals “who have endangered the safety and security of our people do not go on to do so on another carrier,” Bastian wrote.

Last month, three New York residents were charged with assaulting a Delta security officer at JFK Airport in September. The three were charged with “viciously assaulted an airline security officer by beating him to the floor with his radio and then kicking and punching him in the face and body while he was down,” U.S. Attorney Breon Peace said last month.

On Oct. 8, President Joe Biden said he had instructed the Justice Department to “deal” with the rising number of violent incidents onboard planes.