A bipartisan bill introduced by members of the U.S. House and Senate, led by Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., would add commercial flight passengers who are violent aboard planes to the no-fly list. File Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI | License Photo
March 29 (UPI) -- A bipartisan bill introduced by members of the U.S. House and Senate would add commercial flight passengers who are violent aboard planes to the no-fly list.
Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill, Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif, and Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., introduced the Protection from Abusive Passengers Act on Wednesday. The bill would create a program that bans passengers who engage in violence, sexual assault, or intimidation with other passengers or flight staff.
The bill includes guidance for removing unruly passengers, a process for reporting incidents and a process to appeal being added to the list.
The Federal Aviation Administration reported a stark increase in violent incidents aboard flights in recent years. In 2021's annual unruly passenger report, 5,981 incidents were recorded, resulting in 1,113 investigations and 350 enforcement actions. Between 1995 and 2008, 3,766 incidents were reported.
In 2021, 4,290 incidents were related to masks, which were federally mandated to be worn on planes to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in February 2021. Reed said incidents have continued to be frequent since the mask mandate ended.
"Still, the epidemic of air rage continues and this elevated level of in-flight violence has to stop. We must do more to protect employees and the traveling public," he said in a statement. "There should be zero tolerance for any violent behavior that affects flight safety and this bipartisan bill will help us get there."
The bipartisan, bicameral bill was also introduced during last year's legislative session by the same group of lawmakers but it did not pass, USA Today notes.
Several airlines and organizations that advocate for airline employees have endorsed the bill, including the Association of Flight Attendants, Transport Union Workers of America, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and Southwest Airlines.
"Assaults on our airline workers are completely unacceptable, and both airlines and regulators need to act to put an end to this crisis," John Samuelsen, president of Transport Union Workers International, said in a statement.
"That's why the TWU stands in full support of the Protection from Abusive Passengers Act, and why we will continue to spread awareness and fight for policies that hold abusive passengers accountable through our Assault Won't Fly campaign."