Will a no-fly list for unruly passengers prevent violence on flights?

Posted at 12:59 PM, Feb 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-08 18:40:14-05

(WXYZ) — It's been the worst year in history for unruly airline passengers, causing violence on flights.

Now the CEO of Delta Airlines is asking the Department of Justice to create a new national no-fly list for anyone convicted of a federal offense related to an on-board disruption.

The request to create another no-fly list has a lot of people speaking out on both sides, with some telling us they aren’t convinced it would make skies safer and could lead to more problems.

It’s a troubling trend that’s emerged, an accepted reality for millions of air travelers. Incidents involving unruly passengers are up nearly 100% since 2019, according to Delta Airlines.

"There’s been a great rise since COVID and I believe it’s going to rise even more,” said one passenger at Detroit Metro Airport.

Passengers at Detroit Metro telling us the friendly skies are no place to lose control and get physical, and a new no-fly list as a potential consequence could be a powerful deterrent.

Delta says they have a list of their own and have asked other airlines to share their lists. The FAA tells us they’ve tracked roughly 6,304 reports of misconduct since January of 2021.

But attorney & founder of the Arab American Civil Rights League Nabih Ayad has handled countless cases of people he says were unfairly placed on no-fly lists for suspicion of terrorism.

And he’s successfully sued to get names of his clients taken off the list.

"This list has a far reaching affect on this individual, their livelihood, business and family," said Ayad.

Ayad adds lists and labels are often shared causing immeasurable harm.

"That list would be of interest to so many different entities — insurance companies, service providers, employers, government & foreign governments,” said Ayad.

Currently fines for unruly acts can reach nearly $53,000 and bring as much as 20 years behind bars. So far, it’s unknown how the DOJ will respond.

“I do think we need to look at every policy tool that can help here. It’s simply unacceptable for flight crews or fellow passengers to have to deal with this,” said U.S. Department of Transportation Sec. Pete Buttigieg.

In written testimony submitted to Congress on September 21 morning, the Association of Flight Attendants wrote:

"An issue that needs particular attention now is how an aggressive passenger can be banned from one airline but then promptly fly on another one, putting more crews, passengers, and gate agents at risk and sending a message of lax (if any) oversight. This is not acceptable. A central database that all the airlines can access to share information about passengers who are banned from flying makes practical sense.


1. Clarify what triggers pilot reporting and law enforcement response, define and require that pilot reporting and ground response protocols are implemented, take action against passengers who break the rules including consistent applications of fines (and some immediate consequence, not just the remote threat of a distant and unlikely consequence), criminally prosecute certain offenders under the DOJ, and direct the fines into a legal/medical fund for affected crewmembers and PSAs.

2. Create a centralized list of passengers who may not fly for some period of time and provide airlines with access to the list. Add to the contract of carriage that airlines have the right to share passengers’ information with the DOT."

Whether or not a new no fly list is created, Delta says the still have the ability to keep unruly people from flying on their airline.