Airlines got a preview of the mood of supporters of President Trump when in-flight tussles emerged on flights into Washington, D.C., on Tuesday and after Wednesday’s storming of the US Capitol they aren’t taking any chances on what might unfold as the election protesters fly home.
American Airlines has increased staffing at the three DC-area airports – Reagan National and Dulles International in Virginia and Baltimore Washington International in Maryland – and is halting liquor sales on flights to and from the airports, spokesman Curtis Blessing said.
“At American, safety is our highest priority,” the airline said in a statement. “We are working closely with local law enforcement and airport authority partners to ensure the safety of our customers and team members on the ground and in the air.”
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.”
The Association of Flight Attendants, which represents flight attendants at United, Frontier and more than 15 other airlines, suggested protesters who stormed the Capitol and were involved in the incidents on flights headed to Washington on Tuesday should be banned from flying.
In one viral incident, Mitt Romney was heckled at the Salt Lake City airport and on a Delta flight Tuesday. In another, Trump supporters accused other passengers of threatening them on an American Airlines flight from Dallas to Washington.
“Our first priority in aviation safety and security is to keep any problems on the ground. Some of the people who traveled in our planes yesterday participated in the insurrection at the Capitol today,” union president Sara Nelson said in a press release. “Their violent and seditious actions at the Capitol today create further concern about their departure from the DC area. Acts against our democracy, our government, and the freedom we claim as Americans must disqualify these individuals from the freedom of flight.”
The union said airlines will work with law enforcement to identify riot participants in its bid to “keep all problems on the ground.”
United Airlines spokeswoman Leslie Scott echoed the sentiments of the AFA about safety and security of passengers and crew being its first priority.
United and other carriers said they will continue to enforce mask policies in place since the coronavirus pandemic began. Trump supporters, and the president, often flout mask requirements.
One protester headed from Charlotte, North Carolina, to Washington, D.C., Tuesday was removed from an American Airlines flight over mask issues.
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