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Can't fly anymore: Swalwell bill targets abusive airline passengers

Reaction to rise in violence, harassment in pandemic-era air travel

Local congressman Eric Swalwell is one of two lawmakers who have introduced a bill that aims to tame the trend of aggressive and disruptive behavior from airline passengers amid pandemic anxieties and travel restrictions.

Swalwell, alongside U.S. Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) took to the U.S. Capitol to discuss the impetus for the "Protection from Abusive Passengers Act" at a press conference on April 6, which was also televised on C-SPAN.

"As a father of three kids in diapers who flies back and forth from California to Washington, I've seen how unsettling it is for families to witness these in-flight incidents," Swalwell (D-Livermore) said. "Having your kids exposed and vulnerable to violence that's going around, and I've seen mothers huddling over their kids as these incidents take place."

"They threaten the safety of passengers, they threaten the economy of America," he continued.

The legislation is aimed at both reducing incidents of violence and harassment during air travel, and holding perpetrators accountable by potentially placing them on a commercial "no-fly" list to be managed by the Transportation Security Administration.

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The two legislators argue that such a measure is necessary to combat a dramatic uptick in harassment, violence and generally unruly behavior from air passengers. They point to numbers from the Federal Aviation Administration that see the number of reports of such incidents rise to 5,981 unruly passenger incidents in 2021, more than three times the prior record.

Criteria for "abusive passengers" in the bill include receiving a civil penalty for "assaulting, threatening, or intimidating a crewmember"; "tampering with, interfering, compromising, modifying, or attempting to circumvent any security system, measure, or procedure related to civil aviation security," and conviction for federal offenses "involving assaults, threats or intimidation against a crewmember on an aircraft flight."

Banned passengers would not be allowed board any commercial flight unless they are removed from the "no-fly" list. However, being removed from the list proposed by the bill would not prevent someone from potentially being on another TSA-managed list that could prevent them from flying.

While the prospect of landing on a "no-fly" list is intended to be a harsh penalty that provides deterrence, the bill also seeks to provide a fair warning to passengers and to offer routes for appealing a decision.

"It puts in place and addresses many due process concerns, of notice, right to appeal, but it also says if you're convicted, it may be your last flight," Swalwell said. "So it's a consequence and a penalty for anyone who would commit violence."

"This is also a deterrent, because no one would ever want to take their last flight over something as ridiculous as throwing a punch at a flight attendant or a fellow traveler," he continued. "Enough is enough. There will be consequences in the future."

If enacted, the TSA would develop a publicly available website listing details of the bill, and the new policies and procedures that would ensue from it, within 180 days of the bill's passage.

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Jeanita Lyman
Jeanita Lyman joined the Pleasanton Weekly in September 2020 and covers the Danville and San Ramon beat. She studied journalism at Skyline College and Mills College while covering the Peninsula for the San Mateo Daily Journal, after moving back to the area in 2013. Read more >>

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Can't fly anymore: Swalwell bill targets abusive airline passengers

Reaction to rise in violence, harassment in pandemic-era air travel

by / Pleasanton Weekly

Uploaded: Wed, Apr 13, 2022, 5:10 pm

Local congressman Eric Swalwell is one of two lawmakers who have introduced a bill that aims to tame the trend of aggressive and disruptive behavior from airline passengers amid pandemic anxieties and travel restrictions.

Swalwell, alongside U.S. Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) took to the U.S. Capitol to discuss the impetus for the "Protection from Abusive Passengers Act" at a press conference on April 6, which was also televised on C-SPAN.

"As a father of three kids in diapers who flies back and forth from California to Washington, I've seen how unsettling it is for families to witness these in-flight incidents," Swalwell (D-Livermore) said. "Having your kids exposed and vulnerable to violence that's going around, and I've seen mothers huddling over their kids as these incidents take place."

"They threaten the safety of passengers, they threaten the economy of America," he continued.

The legislation is aimed at both reducing incidents of violence and harassment during air travel, and holding perpetrators accountable by potentially placing them on a commercial "no-fly" list to be managed by the Transportation Security Administration.

The two legislators argue that such a measure is necessary to combat a dramatic uptick in harassment, violence and generally unruly behavior from air passengers. They point to numbers from the Federal Aviation Administration that see the number of reports of such incidents rise to 5,981 unruly passenger incidents in 2021, more than three times the prior record.

Criteria for "abusive passengers" in the bill include receiving a civil penalty for "assaulting, threatening, or intimidating a crewmember"; "tampering with, interfering, compromising, modifying, or attempting to circumvent any security system, measure, or procedure related to civil aviation security," and conviction for federal offenses "involving assaults, threats or intimidation against a crewmember on an aircraft flight."

Banned passengers would not be allowed board any commercial flight unless they are removed from the "no-fly" list. However, being removed from the list proposed by the bill would not prevent someone from potentially being on another TSA-managed list that could prevent them from flying.

While the prospect of landing on a "no-fly" list is intended to be a harsh penalty that provides deterrence, the bill also seeks to provide a fair warning to passengers and to offer routes for appealing a decision.

"It puts in place and addresses many due process concerns, of notice, right to appeal, but it also says if you're convicted, it may be your last flight," Swalwell said. "So it's a consequence and a penalty for anyone who would commit violence."

"This is also a deterrent, because no one would ever want to take their last flight over something as ridiculous as throwing a punch at a flight attendant or a fellow traveler," he continued. "Enough is enough. There will be consequences in the future."

If enacted, the TSA would develop a publicly available website listing details of the bill, and the new policies and procedures that would ensue from it, within 180 days of the bill's passage.

Comments

Jake Waters
Registered user
Birdland
on Apr 13, 2022 at 5:49 pm
Jake Waters, Birdland
Registered user
on Apr 13, 2022 at 5:49 pm

November is coming and our liaison to Communist China is working on maintaining name recognition. Unfortunately he focuses on worthless pursuits. I will say it again: Hey Eric, you probably don’t know this but there is a hole in the southern border where millions now are crossing without masks, shots, papers, and legitimacy. They are also bringing in large amounts of fentanyl and cocaine, as well as committing rapes and murders. Could you spare a moment from your busy schedule of riding camels in the desert, having lavish parties, and basically misrepresenting California on our dime, and address that problem.


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