The United States Representatives Eric Swalwell (D-California) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pennsylvania) introducing a bill in the House of Representatives, calling for a new federal no-fly list for ‘abusive’ and ‘unruly’ passengers, that would ban people convicted of certain criminal offenses from getting on commercial flights. The same bill was also introduced in the Senate by Senator Jack Reed (D-Rhode Island).
If passed, the ‘Protection from Abusive Passengers Act’ would create a new federal blacklist for air passengers managed by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), an agency of the United States Department of Homeland Security, which is deployed at airports across the country.
The new list would be separate from another terrorism blacklist created in the wake of the 9/11 attacks and overseen by the FBI and DHS.
The same group of lawmakers proposed similar bill last year, it failed to pass. In reintroducing the bill, they said banning people from flights would “serve as a strong deterrent” against violent or disruptive passengers.
“Air rage incidents can pose real safety threats to everyone on board,” Reed wrote in a social media post, adding that the act would “improve air travel safety and hold unruly passengers accountable.”
The proposed legislation, put forward with bipartisan support, would impose flight bans on “any individual who engages in behavior that results in a civil penalty or conviction for assaulting, threatening, or intimidating a crew member or passenger on an aircraft flight,” or who takes any other action which interferes with security personnel.
New TSA-managed no-fly list has already been heavily criticized by the civil rights organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), who pinned all the blame for passengers’ unruly behavior on the air carriers, while seemingly absolving rowdy flyers.
“If Congress wants to further reduce air-rage incidents on aircraft, it should look at forcing the airlines to make flying a less miserable experience,” ACLU spokesman Jay Stanley declared.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), in 2021, as air travel was on the mend after pandemic restrictions were eased at many airports, the agency received 6,000 reports of incidents involving unruly passengers, resulting in more than 1,100 investigations and $5 million in fines.
In 2022, the number of incidents had dropped considerably to just over 2,400, the penalties have increased significantly, raking $8.4 million in fines, even with fewer cases.