Videos of pro-Trump supporters getting booted from flights departing Washington, D.C. have flooded social media since last week's storming of the U.S. Capitol. Lawmakers and airline unions have called to add participants in last Wednesday's riot to federal no-fly lists, and onlookers have cheered as that seems to come to fruition.
The problem? That's not what has happened. In nearly every case so far, the pro-Trump supporters captured getting kicked off planes can blame their behavior onboard – not a no-fly list.
Take, for example, two incidents flying with Delta last weekend that exploded on the internet. On a Friday flight from Washington, D.C.-Reagan (DCA) to Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP), a group of passengers is filmed shuffling off the plane. One woman in the video, who was captured outside the Capitol last Wednesday, said she was being removed “because they said I was loud” and later faulted “freedom of speech.”
None of the videos of the incident show what happened leading up to Delta's decision to ask them to leave.
Group from the insurrection gets kicked off plane. pic.twitter.com/Nenpochgtc
— TheWillOfSkrong (@AnonSkrongus) January 10, 2021
Shortly afterward, a man was captured sobbing in a Washington, D.C.-Reagan (DCA) gate area after apparently being removed from a flight, screaming “This is what they do to us!” and “They called me a … terrorist!” Viral videos of his removal said he had been added to the no-fly list.
People who broke into the Capitol Wednesday are now learning they are on No-Fly lists pending the full investigation. They are not happy about this. pic.twitter.com/5GfHo1eVU8
— Ray [REDACTED] (@RayRedacted) January 10, 2021
Delta confirmed to Thrifty Traveler that none of these passengers were on no-fly lists. Instead, they simply weren't complying with flight crews' instructions onboard.
“Decisions made to remove unruly customers on flights are based solely on behavior that affects the safety and security of our operation including noncompliance with instruction from flight crews,” a Delta spokesperson said.
And that's a much more logical explanation for the uptick in unruly passengers getting kicked off planes. As Gary Leff from View from the Wing points out, it's highly unlikely anyone on a no-fly list would even make it to the plane. They'd likely get turned away at airport security.
And these aren't isolated incidents. A plane full of passengers refused to stop chanting “USA!” when asked onboard an American Airlines flight from Washington to Phoenix (PHX), leading the captain to threaten “I'll put this plane down in the middle of Kansas, I don't care.” Another woman was captured screaming while maskless at the rest of an American Airlines plane. Flight attendants' unions have expressed concern about “terrifying” incidents onboard, including a black flight attendant who was subjected to racist epithets from passengers, Paddle Your Own Kanoo reports.
Airlines have beefed up security and staffing at airports around the nation's capital. American Airlines has suspended alcohol service on flights to and from Washington, D.C. The entire industry is bracing for more drama ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration next week.
All of this underscores an important point: It's easy to not get kicked off a plane.
When you buy a plane ticket, you're signing a contract with your airline. They're agreeing to transport you from point A to point B at a certain price, and you're agreeing to follow the airlines' rules and any instructions from the crew. That includes wearing a mask, being quiet when flight attendants ask you too, and staying buckled in your seat during takeoff and landing. It's really that simple.
Yet for some reason, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) needed to remind flyers last weekend that threatening or assaulting passengers or crew on a plane could mean jail time or a fine of up to $35,000.
“I expect all passengers to follow crew member instructions, which are in place for their safety and the safety of flight,” FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said in a statement.