'Acts against our democracy, our government, and the freedom we claim as Americans must disqualify these individuals from the freedom of flight'
The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA is calling airlines, government agencies, and law enforcement to help keep rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday from boarding on flights.
“Our first priority in aviation safety and security is to keep any problems on the ground. Some of the people who traveled in our planes yesterday participated in the insurrection at the Capitol today,” said the group in a press release. “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.”
The group noted that “air travel is safe because everyone follows a strict set of rules”. However, as early as Tuesday, there were already incidents of “mob mentality behavior that took place on several flights to the D.C.” This is “unacceptable,” the union said, and it “threatened the safety and security of every single person onboard.”
“It will not happen again. There’s a reason that there are strict penalties and fines for failing to comply with crewmember instructions. Enforcement keeps everyone safe,” said the union.
The union is also working with airlines to confirm the safety of crews and provide its members and their families with support. Anyone in need of AFA EAP assistance can call 800-424-2406.
AFA said they confirmed crew layovers have moved from downtown layovers, and stakeholders can check with their airline or AFA Local for updated safety and security information.
Meanwhile, in an interview with CNN Travel, Paul Hartshorn, Jr., spokesman of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA), said some of their air crew had expressed concern about flying D.C. routes over the upcoming days, and some of them have been moved to different trips.
“It's an incredibly scary and dangerous situation,” he said. “And it's a huge problem these past few days, and we anticipate it being a problem through the weekend, as these people fly home from the Washington area.”
American Airlines and United Airlines have both increased staffing at the DC-area airports where they operate, according to the report. American is also suspending alcohol service on its flights to and from the region.
Regarding the events at the Capitol, Washington police announced that one woman was shot by the US Capitol police during the riot, and later died of her injuries. Three others have also died in “medical emergencies”. According to a report on The Independent, police have arrested 52 people as of Thursday morning. They have also recovered two pipe bombs as well as a cooler full of Molotov cocktails.