Today, new security procedures will be in force for flights in and out of Washington DC area airports. These measures are in preparation for the Presidential inauguration from now through at least through January 20, 2021. These measures are to protect passengers during flights as well as security on arrival to Washington DC.
Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Southwest and United Airlines have increased security measures flying into the following airports:
- Reagon National Airport (DCA),
- Baltimore/Washington International Airport (BWI) and
- Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD).
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) along with the airlines are increasing security measures in response to threats of additional violence. Airlines have also reported flights with disorderly passengers causing disruptions that required flight crew intervention. There have been hundreds of passengers that have been banned from flying the airlines that they displayed disorderly conduct, mostly for face-covering compliance. Among additional measures are those involving alcoholic beverages and transportation of firearms in checked luggage.
In an interview with CNBC, Ed Bastian, CEO of Delta Air Lines said:
“We’re all on high alert, based on the events over the past couple of weeks up in Washington,” Bastian said. “We are doing an awful lot in terms of gathering information and talking to the intelligence agencies both federal and local as well as FAA and TSA. We’ve increased the amount of security, both at airports and in the skies, seen and unseen.”
Yesterday afternoon, Alaska Airlines issued a press release regarding the airline’s updated security procedures. Here is the press release in its’ entirety:
At Alaska, safety is our top priority and our number one value. That drives all our decisions, as it does today. We are temporarily implementing additional safety measures focused on keeping our guests and employees safe, as well as working closely with the industry, FAA, TSA, law enforcement and others. Specific examples, which begin tomorrow, January 15, include:
- Increased mask enforcement on the ground and throughout the journey for all routes, including in partnership with airports from which we fly.
- To support law enforcement’s calls to avoid travel to the area, we will limit the number of tickets purchased on flights to and from the DC metro area.
- We will temporarily ban checked firearms on flights to the DC metro area, specifically flights to and from Baltimore/Washington International Airport, Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and Dulles International Airport.
- All passengers traveling to and from the DC metro area will be required to remain in their seats for one hour from take-off or landing to these airports.
- We’re adding extra personnel to support compliance.
- We have procedures to ensure compliance prior to departure and takeoff, and for turn-back or diversions, should the circumstance warrant.
- And, we will have a dedicated command center to monitor every phase of the journey – check in, boarding, taxi, climb, cruise, descent and arrival – to ensure compliance and allow us to quickly respond to and resolve any incidents.
We appreciate all that law enforcement and our crews are doing to ensure travel remains safe and respectful.
American Airlines is suspending alcoholic beverage service on flights to and from Washington DC area airports from January 16, 2021 through January 21, 2021. In regard to firearms, this travel advisory now appears on the American Airlines website:
Firearms restriction for D.C.-area airports
The safety of our customers and team members is our top priority. As an additional precautionary measure in advance of the Presidential Inauguration, firearms may not be transported in checked bags on flights into Washington, D.C.-area airports (DCA, IAD and BWI) from January 16 – 23, 2021. Credentialed law enforcement officials and active duty military members traveling on Department of Defense orders will be exempt.
Firearms are never allowed to be brought onboard our planes as a carry-on item.
Delta Air Lines
Delta will temporarily not accept firearms as checked baggage on flights heading to Washington DC area airports:
To ensure the safety of our customers and employees, customers flying into the Washington, D.C. area (DCA, BWI, IAD and RIC) from January 16 – 23 will not be permitted to transport firearms in their checked bags. This restriction also applies to flights arriving at Richmond International Airport (RIC). As a reminder, firearms are never permitted in carry-ons.
Delta is also encouraging customers that can cancel or change their Washington DC travel plans to do so:
“We encourage customers to consider changing their travel plans to the Washington, D.C. area, in accordance with requests from officials asking people not to travel to the inauguration.”
Changing or cancelling Delta flights can be done without incurring a change fee.
At the time of this writing, the Jet Blue website travel advisory page has no additional information about flights to Reagan National Airport (DCA).
Southwest has temporarily banned firearms from flights to Washington DC area airports.
United has temporarily banned firearms from flights to Washington DC area airports and Richmond International Airport (RIC).
Special Emphasis Enforcement Program
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will be launching a new special emphasis enforcement program that is intended to deal with passengers who assault, threaten, intimidate or interfere with a flight crewmember in the performance of a crewmember’s duties. Steve Dickson, FAA Administrator said his agency has seen a proliferation of incidents of passengers refusing to comply with pandemic-related safety measures and bad behavior. Fines as high as $35,000 can be levied against violators.
The message seems to be the same, if you can avoid travel to Washington DC, you may want to consider doing that. Airlines have eliminated change and cancellation fees which will make it easier for you to change your travel plans. If you must fly to Washington DC, please check with your airline for updated Washington DC travel advisories.
Please follow airline crewmember instructions. Their instructions are for your safety as well as the safety of everybody else that is aboard. Failure to comply with crewmember instructions can be a violation of Title 49 USC subsection 46504. Depending on the severity of failing to comply, passengers could face arrest and be banned from your airline. Please be nice.