The fall-out from the insurrection at the Capitol Wednesday continues. American Airlines announced there will be no alcohol served on its flights to and from Washington, D.C. through Thursday night. This is a safety precaution after the violence at the U.S. Capitol as well as after the treatment of Senator Mitt Romney in an airport and on a flight Tuesday.
If you are planning to fly into or out of Washington, D.C. on American Airlines, there will be no sales of alcohol in flight. This is a direct response to the violent insurrection witnessed yesterday after a rally with President Trump. The airline is also increasing staffing at area airports, including Reagan National, Dulles International, and Baltimore Washington International. It is working with local law enforcement and airport authority partners as Biden’s inauguration approaches but after the mob scenes yesterday, the alcohol ban was determined to be a step to take for passenger safety. The main concern right now is the protesters traveling back home Thursday. The alcohol ban affects first-class passengers, as the service has already been cut for other passengers due to the coronavirus.
Andrew Trull, a spokesperson for American Airlines, told NBC News in an email Thursday that they had increased staffing at airports in the D.C. area, among other measures.
“We are 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,” Trull said.
No alcohol would be provided on D.C. flights on Thursday, but Trull said the company would “continue to monitor the situation.” Due to the pandemic, American Airlines stopped serving alcohol in the main cabin on Mar. 24, but it is still available in first class, according to the company.
American Airlines and United Airlines overnighted at hotels away from central Washington, D.C. in order to avoid protests and to avoid logistical problems. United did the same during the election in November in Atlanta and United crews overnighting in Atlanta are also staying at airport hotels this week.
Some of this is in reaction to the harassment shown to Mitt Romney Tuesday in the Salt Lake City airport by a Trump supporter. In case you haven’t seen the video, this is it:
Utah Patriots catch Rino Romney at Salt Lake City international airport! He thinks he’s above his constituents!!! Openly bashing @realDonaldTrump!!!
“These people won’t be able to walk down the street.”
VOLUME UP! ☝🏼 pic.twitter.com/Lntgozkajx
— Qtah (@Utah_17) January 6, 2021
Talking to Romney and voicing disapproval for his behavior toward President Trump is one thing. Yelling, name-calling, and following him through the airport in order to show it on social media is another. Neither Romney’s nor the woman’s mind was changed about anything. It turned into performance art instead of a productive conversation. Once he was seated on the flight to Washington, Trump supporters began chanting and yelling at him. It was left to the flight attendants to handle the situation.
The president of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants addressed her union members Wednesday.
Julie Hedrick, president of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, told union members in a letter Wednesday that they were aware of several flight incidents where flight attendants “were forced to confront passengers exhibiting politically motivated aggression towards other passengers and crew.”
Hedrick advised flight attendants to “maintain situational awareness, and attempt to deal with all safety and security issues on the ground.”
“As safety professionals, we are well trained in handling inflight disruptions, but we should never find ourselves having to deal with politically motivated verbal or physical altercations onboard,” Hedrick said in a statement.
“Remain extra vigilant on flights departing from the Washington, D.C. area for the next few days, and involve your fellow crewmembers if you have safety concerns.”
The U.S. Travel Association issued a statement about the violence at the Capitol, too.
“We are profoundly heartbroken by the disturbing actions at the U.S. Capitol that are being viewed around the world. The behavior we are witnessing has no place in any peaceful democracy, much less in the country that is supposed to be the foremost example of democratic principles.
“Working American families depend on a productive government to facilitate their livelihoods—especially in this time of unprecedented crisis and challenge—and the willful disruption of our democratic transition is an unacceptable act of harm that is felt not just in Washington, but in every corner of the country.
“With all our hearts, we urge the swift and peaceful end to the chaos and mayhem in our capital city, and that we come together to heal and move forward for the sake of our country and our future.”
How about just denying the rioters their freedom of flight altogether? The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA), President Sara Nelson, thinks that is the way to go. She spoke of “mob mentality behavior” and the threat to the safety of others on airline 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. Their violent and seditious actions at the Capitol today create further concern about their departure from the DC area,” the statement said. “Acts against our democracy, our government, and the freedom we claim as Americans must disqualify these individuals from the freedom of flight.”
The decisions to move crews away from central D.C. were made before the riot yesterday. This decision was made in preparation for the upcoming inauguration. Alaska Airlines is also an airline that has been advised to move its crews outside the area.
The TSA, which has authority over US travel security, said it is “always on high alert” and has “multiple layers of security in place.” Take that as you will. What struck me about the video of Romney was that he was alone in the airport as the Trump supporters approached him. TSA only provides security measures at certain points in airports. There were no “multiple layers of security in place” for him or anyone else at that point.