Are Airlines the New and Unexpected Defenders of Democracy?
As politicians in Washington wring their hands and American voters demand accountability for yesterday’s riots, some of America’s biggest Airlines
As politicians in Washington wring their hands and American voters demand accountability for yesterday’s riots, some of America’s biggest Airlines are less equivocating. Several airlines have implemented safety measures in the wake of yesterday’s riots, and one of the country’s largest flight attendant unions isn’t holding back.
American Airlines Bans Alcohol
American Airlines had previously stopped serving alcohol in certain flights due to COVID-19. However, events of this week have caused the airline to take a more specific stance and extend their ban. They have now suspended all alcohol on flights to and from D.C. through Thursday for now, and increased staff at D.C.-area terminals.
NBC DFW reports, “On Tuesday night, supporters of President Donald Trump got into an angry shouting match with other passengers on AA flight 1291 from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport after it landed at Dulles International Airport.
The incident occurred on Tuesday night after American’s flight 1291 from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport landed at Dulles International Airport outside Washington, D.C., and was taxiing to the gate.
A ‘Trump 2020’ logo was projected on the cabin ceiling and walls and yelling between passengers ensued. A flight attendant intervened, telling one passenger in the aisle to sit down.
American said law enforcement was not called, and that passengers deplaned and dispersed without further incident.”
Concerns about outgoing President Donald Trump‘s supporters leaving the Capitol area causing disruptions on planes are being discussed among other circles as well.
Other Airlines Increase Safety
AA is not the only airline considering the safety of it’s passengers and staff. Per USA Today, “Delta did not reveal specific measures it is taking but spokesman Morgan Durrant said ‘there’s nothing more important than protecting the integrity of the safety and security measures that keep our employees and customers safe.’
‘Delta continually works with law enforcement agencies and all aviation stakeholders to enact methods – both seen and unseen – as part of our unwavering efforts to keep everyone safe at our airports and on our flights.”’
Other airlines reaffirmed their commitment to reinforcing mask requirements, a policy that is frequently at odds with supporters of the outgoing president.
Flight Attendant Union Speaks Out
Washington Post shares, “The head of a union representing flight attendants from 17 airlines said the people who were part of the mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday should be banned from getting back on planes and flying home.
In a statement released Wednesday night, Sara Nelson, international president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, condemned the ‘mob mentality behavior’ on flights to the D.C. area on Tuesday that included passengers heckling Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and getting into shouting matches.
‘Some of the people who traveled in our planes yesterday participated in the insurrection at the Capitol today,’ Nelson said in the statement. ‘Their violent and seditious actions at the Capitol today create further concern about their departure from the DC area.’
She continued: ‘Acts against our democracy, our government, and the freedom we claim as Americans must disqualify these individuals from the freedom of flight.’”
It’s not clear how enforcement of such a policy would be handled. It’s also possible that such practices would fall afoul of anti-discrimination laws, although private businesses have a lot of leeway in protecting the safety of their employees and customers.
A spokesperson for United Airlines echoed the sentiment of the CWA, saying that passenger safety was a top priority. It’s possible that airlines will be the next line of defense against people hoping to fly to D.C. to instigate more unrest. And banning people from returning home on flights if they participated would certainly put a wrinkle in the free travel of rioters.
Can the companies comply with the union’s requests? That remains unclear. And it’s also unclear whether they’re interested in trying to or not. For now, all of the airlines that fly in and out of D.C. are on high alert for dangerous behavior and have pledged to increase safety to the best of their abilities.