This Is Sickening

The above image appeared in a September 23 Washington Post story with this caption:

“Flight attendants and crew members around the country are training in self-defense with federal air marshals.”

Not that learning self-defense is sickening.

But the need for it in this case – is.

It’s sickening that flight attendants and crew should need self-defense training in case they have to deal with what are now called “unruly passengers.”

Arrested September 7: He took off his mask, growled like a dog, swore at flight attendants, and displayed his middle finger.

And since the same article noted that “the FAA said this week it has received 4,385 reports of unruly passenger incidents” in 2021, it appears the need for that self-defense training is – sadly – well-founded.

Flight attendants have reported being punched, fondled, spat on, and subjected to racial and homophobic slurs by passengers who are drunk and/or refuse to wear face masks and/or are looking for someone to take out their anger on and/or are simply – assholes.

So on September 21, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) came up with a brilliant solution: 

Pass the Buck:

“One week to respond”?

The “unruly passenger” issue has been painfully evident for the better part of a year, and the FAA is giving the airlines “one week” to solve the problem?

The airlines are supposed to “crack down harder” – how?  Short of shooting these people who punch, fondle, spit, get drunk, refuse to wear a mask, and otherwise behave so egregiously that sometimes flights must be diverted so their sorry asses can be removed from the plane?

Plus, it’s the FAA and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) who have the lawmaking and enforcement power – not the airlines.

OK – wait.

Congress also has lawmaking and enforcement power.  What do they have to say about all this?

On September 23, Congress did what they do best.

They kicked the can down the road:

They held a hearing.

Specifically, this subcommittee of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure hearing:

A two-hour-and-45-minute hearing that:

Provided some great photo ops:

Started at 10am and made everybody late for lunch, doggone it!

And brought us the following pearls of wisdom:

“As the nation works to get to the other side of the COVID-19 pandemic, the surge in public air rage incidents has exacerbated the already-tenuous workforce situation in our aviation sector and eroded confidence in air travel.”
– Rep. Rick Larsen (D-WA), chairman of the subcommittee

“It needs to be a civil experience for everyone on the plane, and obviously there are additional safety considerations for being tens of thousands of feet up in the air in a metal airplane when thinking about this.”
– Rep. Garret Graves (LA), the top Republican on the subcommittee

“The FAA inspectors who handle these cases are also responsible for conducting oversight and surveillance of the aviation system’s safety.  They can’t continue without some relief.”
– Rep. Peter A. DeFazio (D-OR), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee

Meeting adjourned.

So – the FAA’s contribution:  Buck passing.

Congress’ contribution:  Can kicked down the road.

But – but – some relief may be in sight.

Courtesy of Delta Airlines:

According to the article:

“Delta Air Lines is urging airlines to respond to the extraordinary surge in unruly behavior in the skies by creating a national ‘no fly’ list of barred customers, according to a memo sent to flight attendants on Wednesday.”

Note:  This is a different list from the government’s No-Fly List, says the article; that list “was created to thwart terrorism and is maintained by the FBI, not airlines, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration said.”

Delta already has more than 1,600 people on its own “no fly” list, according to the memo.

And, says this article:

“United Airlines reportedly has more than 1,000 on its own banned-from-flying list.  American, JetBlue, Southwest, Hawaiian and Alaskan airlines all have their own lists of personae non gratae.”

Thank you, Delta Airlines, for setting the example, going back all the way to August 2020 and this story:

The answer to the headline question is a resounding “yes” – you can be banned for not wearing a mask, and for other unruly behavior:

“Delta’s no-fly list is perfectly within its scope of rights, experts stress.”

“‘The legal reasoning is pretty straightforward,’ says Sharona Hoffman, co-director of Case Western Reserve University’s Law-Medicine Center.  ‘They’re a private business, and private businesses can have rules.’”

“Eduardo Angeles, a lawyer who served as Federal Aviation Administration associate administrator for airports during President Barack Obama’s administration, said, ‘No one has a right to fly.  Instead, you’re just a participant navigating the free market:  You have several options [to get to your destination] – car, train, foot.  And in this way, an airline is just like a restaurant:  It can deny service to somebody for reasons that are specific to [it].’”

So, to all airlines, I say this:

While you’re waiting for the buck-passing FAA and the can-kicking Congress to fix the unruly passenger problem…

Share your no-fly lists.

Love those no-fly lists.

Enforce those no-fly lists.

Every name of every asshole who boarded a plane and decided that the rules apply to other people, but not to them.

And declare them…

Not for a year.

Not for five years.

Everyone on every no-fly list is…

When potentially unruly passengers are faced with the probability – no, the certainty – that they will never board any U.S. commercial airplane again, I believe some of them – no, many of them – will refrain from causing trouble on our airlines.

For life – Delta did it:

For life – Spirit did it:

For life – Jet Blue did it:

C’mon airlines!

Everyone agree, everyone get together and…

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