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American Airlines is investigating an unruly and frightening episode on a flight to Washington, D.C., the night before a pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol to protest the certification of President-elect Joe Biden's election.

Why it matters: Pilots and flight attendants are trained to keep passengers safe in the air and, since 9/11, to be on the lookout for potential terrorists. But in these extraordinary times, their duties have expanded to include mask enforcement and now, apparently, quelling civil unrest.

A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.

Driving the news: In a darkened airplane cabin, passengers flying from Dallas to Washington Tuesday evening are heard shouting obscenities at a fellow traveler while a large Trump logo is projected on the plane's ceiling, according to a Tweet posted by independent journalist Maranie Staab.

  • After the cabin lights come on, one man wearing a camouflage cap is clearly heard saying: "These are the guys we came to f--king wipe out."
  • Then a woman, presumably a flight attendant, can be heard over the public address system: "I'm talking to you in the aisle, have a seat please. Now."
  • American Airlines flight 1291 arrived safely at Dulles International Airport (IAD) at 9:36pm ET.

Of note: Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) was heckled on a flight from Salt Lake City to Washington ahead of Wednesday's certification vote.

  • Fellow passengers chanted "Traitor! Traitor! Traitor!" according to one video shared on Twitter.

What they're saying: "At American, safety is our highest priority. We are working closely with local law enforcement and airport authority partners to ensure the safety of our customers and team members on the ground and in the air," the airline said in a statement.

  • "We have also increased staffing at DC-area airports as a precautionary measure and will not be serving alcohol on flights to and from this area.
  • "We will continue to enforce policies that ensure our customers' and team members' safety and wellbeing."

Airline crews want to see the rioters banned from flying.

  • "The mob mentality behavior that took place on several flights to the D.C. area yesterday was unacceptable and threatened the safety and security of every single person onboard. It will not happen again," said Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA) International, in a statement.
  • "Their violent and seditious actions at the Capitol today create further concern about their departure from the DC area. Acts against our democracy, our government and the freedom we claim as Americans must disqualify these individuals from the freedom of flight."

Go deeper

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Jan 14, 2021 - Science

Blue Origin launches test of its suborbital space system

The New Shepard takes flight. Photo: Blue Origin

Blue Origin's New Shepard space system, designed to one day take paying customers to suborbital space, took flight from Texas on Thursday for an uncrewed test.

Why it matters: The company — founded by Amazon's Jeff Bezos — is inching closer to launching its first customers.

9 hours ago - World

Over 170 Palestinians injured in clashes with Israeli police in Jerusalem

An injured man is carried away as Israeli security forces clash with Palestinian protesters at the al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem. Photo: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP via Getty Images

At least 178 Palestinians have been injured in clashes with Israeli police in Jerusalem, Reuters reported late Friday.

The big picture: The clashes come amid growing anger over the threatened eviction of Palestinians from their homes on land claimed by Jewish settlers in East Jerusalem. Tensions have also escalated in the occupied West Bank in recent weeks.

Updated 11 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus cases hit a seven-month low — Majority back vaccine proof requirements for travel, schools and work — The race to avoid a possible "monster" COVID variant.
  2. Politics: Oklahoma secures $2.6 million refund for hydroxychloroquine purchase — Why Biden's latest vaccine goal is his hardest yet.
  3. Vaccines: Pfizer begins application for full FDA approval of COVID-19 vaccine — Moderna says its COVID booster shot shows promise against variants.
  4. Economy: U.S. adds just 266,000 jobs in April, far below expectations — Americans' return to the skies could benefit smaller airlines.
  5. World: WHO authorizes China's Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use — Mixed response in Europe to Biden's vaccine patents bombshell.
  6. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.