The largest U.S. airlines have been working with the Biden administration for months on creating a nationwide no-fly list that would ban from commercial carriers the worst of unruly passengers, as attacks on flight attendants, airport gate agents and fellow travelers increase.
Discussions among the carriers, their Airlines for America trade group, the Department of Homeland Security and Transportation Security Administration over the issue have intensified over the last six months or so, two people familiar with the issue said, asking not to be named because the talks are private. Airline unions also have been involved in some of the talks.
The effort highlights the industry’s increasing push for more effective ways of quelling the jump in unruly passenger incidents since a pandemic-era requirement to wear masks on board planes was imposed. Of 5,981 such reports last year, 72% were related to masks, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. The agency launched investigations of 1,105 more serious incidents last year, more than three times the previous high since the agency began collecting such data in 1995. It has initiated enforcement action in 390 cases since the start of 2021. The current mask mandate is set to expire March 18.