American, United, Frontier Airlines ban firearms in checked bags on flights to DC ahead of inauguration
LOS ANGELES - Airlines are tightening their safety policies after last week’s violent pro-Trump riot at the U.S. Capitol, and ahead of the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden on Jan. 20.
According to American Airlines, as an additional precautionary measure, the airline "will not permit the transport of firearms in checked bags on flights into D.C. area airports (BWI, DCA and IAD) from Jan. 16 through Jan. 23, 2021."
"At American, the safety of our customers and team members is our top priority," a spokesperson with American Airlines told FOX TV Stations. "We are continuing to work closely with local and federal law enforcement, as well as our airport partners, and will continue to enforce policies that ensure safety and wellbeing of our customers and team members on the ground and in the air."
Customers who have already departed from a D.C. area airport on a round-trip ticket and transported a firearm in checked baggage should contact customer service for assistance, the airline said.
Meanwhile, similar measures have been put into place for United Airlines.
"We will not permit passengers to check firearms on United flights to BWI, DCA, IAD and RIC from Jan. 16-23," a spokesperson with United confirmed to FOX TV Stations. "United’s first priority must be the safety and security of our passengers and employees."
American and United noted that credentialed law enforcement officials and active duty military members traveling on Department of Defense orders will be exempt from the updated policies.
The announcements come after American Airlines recently said it would suspend alcoholic beverage service on flights to and from D.C. area airports from Jan. 16 through Jan. 21.
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In addition, both airlines announced that they have provided crew members with hotel accommodations outside of the downtown Washington D.C. area and are increasing staffing at D.C. area airports.
Thursday afternoon, Frontier Airlines joined American and United, making an announcement to follow the same measures.
"Frontier Airlines has announced that passengers flying into Washington D.C. area airports from Saturday, Jan. 16 through Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021 will not be allowed to travel with checked firearms with the exception of credentialed law enforcement and military personnel on orders. Specific airports included in the temporary policy change are Reagan National Airport (DCA), Dulles International Airport (IAD) and Baltimore/Washington International Airport (BWI)," Jennifer F. de la Cruz, the director of corporate communications with Frontier Airlines, told FOX TV Stations.
On Wednesday, FAA Administrator Steve Dickson signed an order directing stricter legal enforcement of a policy against disruptive airline passengers amid an uptick in "violent behavior" on flights, according to the agency.
"The FAA has seen a disturbing increase in incidents where airline passengers have disrupted flights with threatening or violent behavior. These incidents have stemmed both from passengers’ refusals to wear masks and from recent violence at the U.S. Capitol," the FAA said in the announcement.
"Flying is the safest mode of transportation and I signed this order to keep it that way," Dickson said.According to the FAA, in the past, the agency has addressed unruly passenger incidents using a variety of methods, ranging from warnings to civil penalties.
But now, the FAA will not address cases of violence and disruption on flights with warnings or counseling. Instead, the agency will pursue legal enforcement action against any passenger who "assaults, threatens, intimidates, or interferes with airline crew members."
RELATED: Delta puts 880 passengers on no-fly list over mask refusal, disorderly behavior after Capitol riot
"Passengers who interfere with, physically assault, or threaten to physically assault aircraft crew or anyone else on an aircraft face stiff penalties, including fines of up to $35,000 and imprisonment. This dangerous behavior can distract, disrupt, and threaten crewmembers’ safety functions," the FAA’s press release read.
Meanwhile, Delta Air Lines has put nearly 900 people on its no-fly list in the wake of lawmakers being harassed on flights over the U.S. election and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Reasons for individuals facing a ban from the airline include not complying with Delta's mask requirement or for engaging in unruly behavior related to the results of the presidential election, according to Reuters.
Delta confirmed it has 880 people on its internal no-fly list for violating policies in a statement to FOX Television Stations, but it did not provide any additional details on the ban.