Flight Attendants Say D.C. Insurrection Participants Are a Threat to Travelers’ Safety
The head of the flight attendants’ union said that the “mob mentality behavior” of those who traveled to the Capitol this week puts airline workers and passengers at risk.
Sara Nelson, head of the union that represents nearly 50,000 flight attendants at 17 airlines, feels it’s unsafe for those who participated in the insurrection at the Capitol to be allowed back onto airplanes.
“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,” Nelson said in a statement released by the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA) on January 6.
Supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, forcing lawmakers to be rushed from the building and interrupting Congress’s formal approval of Joe Biden’s presidential victory. Congress returned later Wednesday to resume proceedings after the Capitol was cleared by law enforcement.
“Some of the people who traveled in our planes yesterday participated in the insurrection at the Capitol today,” Nelson stated. She said their violent actions are cause for concern regarding their departure from the D.C. area.
“Acts against our democracy, our government . . . must disqualify these individuals from the freedom of flight. We in aviation have a serious role to play in national security,” stated Nelson. She asked that airlines work together with government and law enforcement agencies to ensure the safety and security of passengers and crew “by keeping all problems on the ground.”
The AFA statement comes after several reports of unruly behavior on flights to Washington, D.C., in the leadup to the January 6 events at the Capitol. On January 5, independent journalist Maranie Staab tweeted a video of verbal clashes between Trump supporters and other passengers on an American Airlines flight from Dallas to Washington, D.C.
And so it begins. On a plane from TX —> DC flight attendants are struggling to control a plane full of Trump supporters as they display a pro-Trump projection and harass others passengers bound for DC. [DM to license]#dc #trump #trumprally #protest #thisisamerica #sos pic.twitter.com/BlTCbD8ntl — Maranie R. Staab (@MaranieRae) January 6, 2021
For its part, American Airlines said in a statement that it would be working with local law enforcement and airport authorities to ensure the safety of its customers and staff. Additionally, alcohol won’t be served on D.C. flights.
“We have also increased staffing at D.C.-area airports as a precautionary measure and will not be serving alcohol on flights to and from this area,” American stated.
AFA said that crew layovers have been moved from the downtown area of D.C. in light of the political violence.
“We are taking a hard line for flight safety and we are encouraging airlines, government agencies, and law enforcement to help keep problems off our flights. It is important we maintain order and calm in our cabins—for safety and security immediately and for confidence in air safety among the traveling public,” AFA stated.
Associated Press contributed reporting.