No-fly lists grow as airlines add hundreds of passengers who refuse to wear masks


FILE – In this Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021, file photo, a passenger wears a face mask she travels on a Delta Air Lines flight after taking off from Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta. Airlines are dropping some of the temporary service changes they made during the early part of the coronavirus pandemic. Delta is the only airline still blocking middle seats, but there’s no guarantee that’ll continue past April 30. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Airports are starting to see more business and airlines are slowly adding flights. But hundreds of passengers won’t be flying anywhere in the foreseeable future.

Multiple airlines confirm they have no-fly lists dedicated to people who’ve been banned for refusing to wear masks, which is a federal requirement.

Delta Airlines has 1,000 people on it’s list according to Bob Somers, Senior Vice President of Global Sales for Delta. He talked about the list and other safety measures during a town hall with Acendas Travel Wednesday afternoon.

Somers touted Delta’s new HEPA air filtration systems on planes and said Delta is committed to blocking middle seats, for the time being, until it’s safer for everyone to fly.

“Air travel is a cleaner experience than standing in a grocery store,” Somers said during the virtual meeting.

United Airlines said it’s also taken steps to make flying as safe as possible. That included banning 738 passengers because they violated the federal mask policy.

All United employees and customers age 2 and older are required to wear a face covering in the airport and after boarding a plane, but the statistics United provided showed not everyone does.

Southwest Airlines doesn’t track mask compliance to release to the public, but said it takes a different approach.

In a statement, Southwest said it reminds all customers of the federal mask mandate multiple times between booking and boarding the flight. The airline said the reminders are used as preventative measures in hopes of avoiding the need to ban a customer from future flying.

American Airlines also didn’t share statistics, but did release a statement:

“We expect our customers to comply with our policies when they choose to travel with us, and we take action when that is not the case, but the vast majority of our customers have supported and welcomed our continuing efforts to strengthen our face covering policy,” Gianna Urgo, Global Communications for American Airlines, said.

Frontier Airlines and Spirit Airlines did not respond to information about the number of passengers who’ve violated mask mandates on their flights.

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