Delta is calling for airlines to submit their “no fly” lists to the Federal Aviation Administration, in a bid to create a national database of banned customers.

The US carrier said that it had submitted more than 600 names to the FAA this year, and is urging other airlines to do the same, following a spate of incidents involving unruly passengers.

“Following up on our continued commitment to safety amid rising rates of unruly passengers, I want to share more on Delta’s efforts to keep our crewmembers and customers safe – both through assessments and updates to our internal policies, and in partnership with federal authorities and other airlines to drive further improvements,” said Kristen Manion Taylor, SVP inflight service, in a memo to staff.

“At Delta, we now have more than 1,600 people on our “no fly” list, and we’ve submitted more than 600 banned names to the FAA in 2021 as part of their Special Emphasis Enforcement Programme,” continued Taylor.

“We’ve also asked other airlines to share their “no fly” list to further protect airline employees across the industry – something we know is top of mind for you as well. A list of banned customers doesn’t work as well if that customer can fly with another airline.”

The memo coincided with a hearing by the US House of Representatives Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, entitled “Disruption in the Skies: The Surge in Air Rage and its Effects on Workers, Airlines, and Airports.”

At the hearing Chair Peter A DeFazio said that “Even as we continue to fight a pandemic, the amount of disruption and violent behaviour on planes has reached epidemic proportions”.

DeFazio cited incidents this year where:

  • a flight attendant lost two teeth in an altercation after a passenger repeatedly ignored instructions and then became physically confrontational
  • a belligerent passenger tried to break down the cockpit door, was handcuffed, broke free, and then struck the flight attendant trying to subdue him a second time

DeFazio said that a zero tolerance policy implemented in January had helped to reduce incidents, but admitted that “the rate of these incidents is still too high”, with over 200 having been reported in a two-week period in September alone.

Eric Phillips, Delta’s SVP – ACS and cargo operations, also stressed in a staff memo that “Anytime a customer physically engages with intent to harm, whether in a lobby, at a gate or onboard, they are added to our permanent No Fly list”.

“We also actively engage with local authorities to ensure these incidents are investigated and prosecuted as the law allows,” said Phillips. “In addition, we actively support any impacted team members and provide them with resources to help them in the aftermath of an incident.”

Delta said it had expanded employee Peer Support teams and the availability of Mental Health Coaching, as well as providing 24/7 assistance for staff.,