Delta Air Lines says it will ban all passengers, except for authorized law enforcement officers, from carrying firearms in checked luggage on its flights to the metro Washington D.C. area ahead of the Presidential inauguration.
The additional security measure was announced as federal and local authorities dramatically ramp-up protection around the Capitol after last week’s deadly riot that spurred Congress to impeach President Trump for a historic second time.
“We’re all on high alert based on the events over the last couple of weeks up in Washington,” Delta chief executive Ed Bastian told CNBC’s Squawk Box on Thursday. “We are doing an awful lot in terms of gathering the information, talking to all of the intelligence agencies, both federal and local, as well as FAA and TSA,” he continued.
“We’ve increased the amount of security both in the airports and in the sky, seen and unseen, and we’re going to be taking some additional measures in the coming days as we look to the week ahead.”
When asked what those additional measures included, Bastian said the airline would ban all passengers on flights headed to Washington D.C. between January 16 and January 23 from carrying a firearm in their checked luggage. The only exception would be for members of law enforcement carrying an authorized firearm as part of their job.
Delta did not immediately say whether it would also follow the lead of American Airlines which has taken the step of banning alcohol on all its flights to D.C. in the run-up to the inauguration but a spokesperson said it was “doing our part to keep people safe.”
Every airline flying to Washington D.C. reported issues with disruptive passengers both before and after the attack on the Capitol. Flight attendant unions say their members were harassed and assaulted by passengers who refused to comply with lawful crew commands including the mandatory wearing of face masks.
American Airlines, Delta and United Airlines all moved their crew out of downtown Washington D.C. hotels following the unrest and will again layover their staff in airport hotels ahead of inauguration day.
A spokesperson for American says the airline will also provide private Uber rides to and from the airport for flights attendants and has changed pre-departure PA’s for both flight attendants and pilots to stress the importance of obeying crew member instructions.
On Wednesday, the Federal Aviation Administration also announced plans to seek civil penalties against anyone accused of disobeying crew commands in an effort to stamp out aggressive passenger behavior over issues like mask wearing or political views.
In a statement, Delta said: “Customers needing to change travel due this policy or requests from officials asking people not to travel to the inauguration, can do so using our flexible change policy”.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.