Mar 29, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Congress mulls TSA no-fly list after spike in unruly passengers

Illustration of an airplane on a runway shaped like a "no" symbol.

Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

After nearly 2,500 reports of unruly passengers on flights last year, Congress is considering a new no-fly list.

Driving the news: Senate and House members proposed legislation Wednesday that would allow the Transportation Security Administration to ban people convicted or fined for assaulting or interfering with airline crews.

  • The Protection from Abusive Passengers Act would prohibit individuals on the list from boarding any commercial aircraft flight, and would let the TSA determine the duration of the ban.
  • The bill includes guidelines for notifying people that they're on the list, and how to appeal it, according to lawmakers who proposed it.

Of note: The TSA no-fly list would be separate from the FBI's list, which is geared toward people suspected of having terrorism ties.

The big picture: In the wake of a federal traveler mask mandate during the COVID-19 pandemic, 2021 saw a record number of unruly passengers. But although such incidents decreased in 2022 after the rule was dropped, cases requiring investigation were still 470% higher than before the pandemic.

What they're saying: Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), one of the lawmakers who introduced the measure, said incidents involving "abusive passengers" increased by nearly 600% between 2019 to 2022.

  • "Our bill provides a simple solution - if you’re violent in our skies, you can't fly," he added.

Flashback: A similar measure failed to go through Congress last year.

Be smart: The Federal Aviation Administration can fine people up to $37,000 per violation for unruly passenger cases — up from $25,000.

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