No-fly list for passengers flouting Covid mask rules is an idea that should stay grounded

The airlines can already keep unruly passengers off their planes.

Delta Airlines CEO Ed Bastian asked Attorney General Merrick Garland this month to support implementing a national “no-fly” list for passengers convicted of disruptive onboard conduct. In his letter, Bastian said that “the rate of incidents with unruly passengers on Delta has increased nearly 100 percent since 2019.” Bastian’s request didn’t sit well with eight Republican senators, who wrote to Garland on Feb. 14 to express their opposition. Those senators are right to oppose the list, but they’re opposing it for all the wrong reasons.

There’s no question that passenger misconduct has become a serious problem, not just for Delta and not only for airline crews, but also for passengers. The Federal Aviation Administration reports that it referred 80 of the most disruptive passengers to the FBI for potential federal prosecution. In 2022 alone, there have already been 400 reports of unruly passengers. The vast majority of these cases relate to passengers not complying with onboard mask requirements imposed by federal authorities.