On January 6, 2021, after the pro-Trump riot imploded in the US Capitol building in Washington D.C., American Airlines (A1G) (AAL) and Delta Air Lines said they were working on ensuring the safety of people traveling through Washington area airports, namely Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and Washington Dulles International Airport. Flight attendant unions have also expressed concerns over protesters flying out from the Washington D.C. after the riot.
American Airlines (A1G) (AAL) has increased the number of staff working in the airports and will not be serving alcohol on flights to and from the area, a spokesman said. American Airlines (A1G) (AAL) and United Airlines also said that cabin crews were moved to airport hotels to avoid locations in central Washington D.C.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA), which overlooks U.S. airport security, said it is “always on high alert” and has “multiple layers of security in place,” reported Reuters.
Prior to the riot, airlines reported disruptive behaviors from passengers flying to Washington D.C. On January 6, 2021, a Twitter video showcased Republican Senator Mitt Romney heckled by Trump supporters at the Salt Lake City International Airport.
After Romney boarded a Delta Air Lines flight, some passengers shouted “traitor.” Delta said it was aware of the incident and that “our crew quickly engaged and resolved the issue,” reported CNBC News.
The flight attendant unions called for a zero-tolerance policy for such incidents. “The mob mentality behavior that took place on several flights to the D.C. area yesterday was unacceptable and threatened the safety and security of every single person onboard,” said Sara Nelson, the president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA-CWA). The union represents around 50,000 cabin crew members at United Airlines, Alaska Airlines and more than a dozen other carriers.
On January 4, 2021, multiple air traffic controllers in New York reported hearing a threat to fly a plane into the Capitol building in Washington D.C. The Federal Aviation Authority told the DailyMail that it was working “closely with federal law enforcement and national security partners on any reported security threats that may impact aviation safety.”