By Hannah Sampson
Washington – The head of a union representing flight attendants from 17 airlines said the people who were part of the mob that stormed the US Capitol on Wednesday should be barred from getting back on planes and flying home.
In a statement released on Wednesday night, Sara Nelson, international president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, condemned the “mob mentality behaviour” on flights to the District of Columbia area on Tuesday that included passengers heckling Senator Mitt Romney, R-Utah, and getting into shouting matches.
“Some of the people who travelled in our planes yesterday participated in the insurrection at the Capitol today,” Nelson said in the statement Wednesday. “Their violent and seditious actions at the Capitol today create further concern about their departure from the DC area.”
She continued: “Acts against our democracy, our government, and the freedom we claim as Americans must disqualify these individuals from the freedom of flight.”
Nelson called on airlines as well as law enforcement, the Transportation Security Administration, the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Transportation to protect passengers and crew by “keeping all problems on the ground.”
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The union did not say who should be responsible for keeping passengers off planes or how those people should be identified. D.C. police had arrested 13 people by Wednesday night. A mob of hundreds broke through the Capitol’s doors and windows, prompting an armed standoff and forcing lawmakers to evacuate. One woman was shot and later died.
An AFA statement said crew layovers had moved from the downtown D.C. area and that the union was working with airlines to confirm the safety of crew members.
“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,” the statement said. “It is important we maintain order and calm in our cabins – for safety and security immediately and for confidence in air safety among the travelling public.”
Representatives for United and Southwest either did not immediately respond to questions about the statement Wednesday night or declined to address it.
American Airlines said it was “working closely with local law enforcement and airport authority partners to ensure the safety of our customers and team members on the ground and in the air” and had increased staffing at airports in the D.C. area as a precautionary measure.
A statement from Delta Air Lines said the airline would not discuss specifics about its safety and security measures.
“Delta continually works with law enforcement agencies and all aviation stakeholders to enact methods – both seen and unseen – as part of our unwavering efforts to keep everyone safe at our airports and on our flights,” the statement said.
“We expect our people and customers to treat one another with dignity and respect as we safely fly them to their destinations, including wearing of masks and following all instructions from Delta people at the airport and on-board.”