2021-01-14 18:05:10 –
By DAVID KOENIG
Airlines and airports say they’re tightening security before next week’s presidential inauguration, and Delta and other major airlines say it will ban passengers flying to the Washington area from putting guns in check bags. I am.
The move follows the January 6 riots at the US Capitol by supporters of President Donald Trump and political conflicts on some flights.
Delta Air Lines first announced on Thursday that it would ban gun checks at airports in the Washington area, followed immediately by United, Alaska and American. Everyone said the ban would start on Saturday and continue until January 23, until the inauguration.
“We are all very vigilant, based on what happened in the last two weeks in Washington,” CEO Ed Bastian told CNBC Thursday.
The airline has also announced other measures. American Airlines has reinstated the ban on the provision of alcohol on flights to and from the Washington area. The flight will dry from Saturday to next Thursday. Some airlines are moving their crew from hotels in downtown Washington for safety.
Earlier this week, the Federal Aviation Administration announced that it would strengthen its enforcement of rules against interfering with or assaulting airline crews and other passengers. The FAA said it would stop warning violators for the next two months and instead refer to law enforcement agencies for prosecution, fines and possible imprisonment.
FAA administrator Stephen Dixon quoted the recent flight turmoil and added that there was a “post-breakdown trend in the Capitol last week.”
Major lawmakers and the head of the country’s largest flight attendant union have called on the FBI to put the Capitol riots on the federal no-fly zone list. An FBI spokesman did not say whether the riot was added to the watch list, but FBI officials said Tuesday that such a move was being considered.
So far, it’s up to domestic airlines to prevent in-flight accidents from getting out of control by threatening to ban people who refuse to wear masks or ignore flight attendant orders. Has been done.
Earlier this week, some of Delta’s Trump supporters from Salt Lake City to Washington fought off Utah Republican Senator Mitt Romney, who criticized Trump and voted to dismiss him last year. According to Bastian, the father was identified with the help of airline employees and other passengers.
“We have six people and will never fly Delta again,” Bastian told The Associated Press. “They have already been notified.”
A few days later, another Republican Senator, Lindsey Graham, South Carolina, was virtually harassed at the terminal at Reagan Washington National Airport after voting to prove President Joe Biden’s victory over Trump. Around the same time, Alaska Airlines said it had harassed its crew during its flight from the Washington, DC region to Seattle and banned 14 passengers who refused to wear masks.
Bastian said Delta “has significantly enhanced security both on board and at the airport, both seen and not seen,” leading to Biden’s inauguration next Wednesday.
American Airlines also said it would add security guards to airports in the Washington area during the inauguration week and change the gate area announcement to encourage passengers to follow the crew’s instructions and wear face masks.
Airlines have also moved flight crews from downtown hotels to hotels near the airport and hired private transportation for them. Last week, passengers on the airport shuttle bus to Reagan Airport made a racial slur against black flight attendants, according to a union representing American flight attendants.
Travelers passing through Reagan National Airport or Dulles International Airport on the outskirts of Washington should expect more police presence through the inauguration, said Mikkarirad, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. He didn’t give details.
Jeffrey Price, an aviation security expert at Metropolitan State University in Denver, said the federal government needs to deploy more aviation marshalls and other personnel on planes to and from the Washington, DC region.
“There were so many cases of flight interruptions that flight crews should not be expected to handle these so that they do not become violent,” he said.
A Homeland Security spokesman refused to discuss the staffing decision on Thursday, but the announcement could come soon.
Price also said it was a “good idea” to ban guns in check bags when passengers were flying to Washington. “I think we can lift the ban on checked guns after launch,” he said.
Federal law allows airlines to have the discretion to ban guns, but allows guns to be placed in checked baggage if passengers unload and are placed in a locked hardside case. .. Federal law prohibits guns and ammunition in carry-on baggage.
Two days after the Capitol riot, TSA Screener at Reagan Airport stopped a departing passenger with 100 bullets in his carry bag. It’s not uncommon for people to pack guns and ammunition into the bags they intend to bring on the plane — they usually say they forget it was there, and they are rarely prosecuted — but the timing of the incident. Attracted attention.
David König can be reached at www.twitter.com/airlinewriter
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