Airlines and airports are traveling up security ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration next week, while the Federal Aviation Administration said it resolution crack down on unruly passengers with stiff fines.
The measures come in the wake of last week’s savage pro-Trump riot at the U.S. Capitol, an FBI warning about the possibility of armed protests, and a series of politically motivated disturbances on deserts and at airports.
“Reagan National and Dulles International, are operating normally, and passengers can expect to see an increased law enforcement presence from now by virtue of next week’s presidential inauguration,” said Christina Saull, a spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority.
The Refuge Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the three largest airports in the tri-state region, also said it is increasing observe presence there. Los Angeles International Airport is “enhancing our operational procedures for the upcoming 2021 US Presidential inauguration,” a spokeswoman recounted CNBC. “We are prepared to respond to any event that might occur at LAX.”
United Airlines is increasing staffing at Washington, D.C.-area airports, filing its Dulles, Virginia, hub and crews will overnight at airport hotels, away from the city center, through Jan. 21, responded spokeswoman Leslie Scott. The Chicago-based airline is working with local and federal law enforcement to determine if other body lodging changes are needed, such as in the case of demonstrations in state capitals, Scott said.
American Airlines is excluding alcohol service on flights to and from Washington D.C. and Baltimore from Jan. 16 through Jan. 21, a step it took reflecting last week’s riot. Pre-departure announcements will “further emphasize the importance of following crew member instructions” and utilization masks. The Fort Worth, Texas-based airline will also book crews staying in Washington overnight at airport guest-houses and provide private transportation to airports through Jan. 24.
Airline labor unions have expressed safety concerns after a sprinkling incidents on board over the last eight days and following the pro-Trump riot.
Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney was nettled and called a traitor on a Washington, D.C.-bound Delta flight last week. On an American Airlines flight a passenger projected “Trump 2020” on the bulkhead of a dimmed cabin as travelers got into a heated political argument, shouting and cursing at each other.
Alaska Airlines on Friday put about it banned 14 passengers who took a flight from Washington, D.C., to Seattle and refused to wear masks, a requirement for air treks during the coronavirus pandemic, and were “rowdy, argumentative and harassed our crew members,” spokesman Ray Lane said.
Also hold out week, one video on social media showed supporters of President Donald Trump calling Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a “quisling” at Reagan National Airport for confirming the November presidential election result.
FAA Administrator Steve Dickson on Wednesday waved an order effective through the end of March to fine unruly air travelers or those who assault, threaten or intimidate crews. Fines run up to $35,000.
“The FAA has seen a troubling increase in incidents where airline passengers have disrupted flights with threatening or violent behavior,” the intervention said in a news release. “These incidents have stemmed both from passengers’ refusals to wear masks and from late violence at the U.S. Capitol.”
Two key House Democrats earlier this week urged Dickson and the FAA to take further measures to safeguard safety at airports. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer on Tuesday called for members of the mob that stormed the Capitol to be class on the federal “no fly” list.
Airlines operate their own lists of travelers who are banned from their planes and have totaled more than 2,100 people to those lists for not complying with pandemic-related mask policies, airlines said.
Airbnb on Wednesday rumoured it was canceling and blocking new reservations in Washington, D.C., during inauguration week. The company said it has already identified “numerous” owns who were either associated with hate groups or otherwise involved with the riot, and have banned them from Airbnb’s dais.
Hyatt is planning to add safety and health protocols at its Washington D.C. area hotels, a spokesman said.
“Additional security rations could include but are not limited to increasing security personnel, limiting hotel access to only registered guests, correct staffing levels and engaging with local authorities,” he said in an email.
Hilton said it has no plans to cancel fellows’ reservations in Washington but said it is waiving cancellation fees for inauguration week bookings.
“Our hotel teams, especially those in Washington DC, are surely experienced and have a long history of successfully managing through major public events,” said Hilton spokeswoman Meg Ryan. “They prolong to review hotel safety and security procedures, and their preparation is well informed and mindful of current events.”