‘We’re all on high alert’: Delta to ban checked firearms, increase security on flights to DC

Starting this weekend, Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian said the airline will ban passengers traveling to Washington, D.C., from checking firearms as part of increased security measures ahead of the inauguration.

“We’re all on high alert based on the events over the last couple of weeks up in Washington,” Bastian said in an interview on CNBC early Thursday. 

Only law enforcement officials will be exempt from the ban.

Bastian said the airline will also add other security measures at the airports and on planes — seen and unseen — in the coming days “as we look to the week ahead.”

Asked whether he was worried about passenger behavior in light of in-flight incidents this year, he said 99.99% of Delta’s passengers “are really great and doing a good job.”

“I don’t want to overreact,” he said. “I think this is a moment hopefully in time with the outcry around the election results.”

Bastian said he was “pleased” to see President Trump’s call for calm and order late Wednesday.

“Hopefully that will help,” he said.

Delta and other airlines stepped up security precautions on flights leaving Washington last weekend following the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol and incidents on D.C.-bound flights leading up to it.

Yet there were still problems. Alaska Airlines banned 14 passengers from a Washington-Seattle flight due to unruly behavior and not complying with its mask policy.

Now airlines are assuming a similar posture ahead of the inauguration.

American Airlines said late Wednesday that it will increase security at the airport and on planes.

The airline also won’t service alcohol on flights to and from D.C-area airports from Jan. 16 through Jan. 21. Due to the pandemic, the airline is currently only serving drinks in first class section. 

The airline is also moving flight crews from their usual downtown hotel locations to those closer to airports and will provide private transportation between the airports and hotels through Jan. 24 instead of having employees use hotel shuttles.

American spokesman Curtis Blessing said the airline is also revising pre-flight announcements to include reminders on the airline’s face mask requirement and “the importance of following crew member instructions.”

FAA gets tough: No more warnings for unruly passengers

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