TEXAS — Three lawmakers are proposing a bill that would place violent airline passengers on a lifetime commercial no-fly list, and the union for American Airlines flight attendants is in favor.
According to Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., who introduced the bill with Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., and Sen. Jack Reed, D-Rhode Island, the Protection from Abusive Passengers Act would “protect flight crew & passengers from intimidation & violent behavior. This bill establishes a zero tolerance policy & ensures that everyone aboard aircrafts have a safe flight.”
The Association of Professional Flight Attendants, which represents more than 24,000 employees of the Fort Worth-based American Airlines, on Thursday called the bill “long overdue.”
“APFA has been calling for a federal ‘no-fly’ list since the uptick in disruptive and abusive passenger incidents began over a year ago. We have been punched, pushed, shoved, harassed, and disrespected for doing our job. This type of behavior is out of control and has no place on an airplane,” the union said in a news release.
If the bill were to become law, the no-fly list would be managed by the Transportation Security Administration. It would ban from commercial flights anyone who has been convicted or fined for assaulting, intimidating or threatening members of an aircraft crew.
It additionally would ban abusive passengers from participating in the TSA Precheck and Global Entry programs.
"Flight attendants continue to face physical and verbal abuse, and we cannot sit by and allow these offenders to commit these dangerous acts from airline to airline. This behavior must stop. There must be severe consequences for injuring flight attendants. We need the accountability of a federal ‘no-fly’ list to protect all crewmembers and passengers across the industry,” APFA National President Julie Hedick said.
The bill additionally calls for the TSA to establish guidelines and considerations for removing a person from a no-fly list based on the severity of the offense.
In 2021, a 20-year-old California man was charged with punching an American Airlines flight attendant in the face, sending her to a hospital for treatment.
Airlines last year reported more than 5,000 incidents involving unruly passengers, with more than 3,600 of those involving people who refused to wear face masks as required by federal regulation. The FAA in November of last year said it launched 950 investigations into passenger behavior on flights. That is the highest total since the agency started keeping track in 1995. In the five years from 2016 through 2020, the agency averaged 136 investigations a year.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.