Travel brands are trying to figure out the best way to deal with the social unrest that’s expected in the coming week, ahead of the inauguration of President-Elect Biden. For example, we’ve seen Airbnb cancel all reservations in the DC area over the inauguration.
Now American Airlines has revealed a variety of precautions for flights to & from the DC area for inauguration week. These policies are largely similar to what we saw last week, following the violence in DC on January 6.
American Airlines’ precautions for DC flights
In anticipation of the Presidential Inauguration in Washington DC next week, American Airlines has revealed enhanced security measures to protect team members and customers. Here’s what we can expect:
- Between January 16 and January 21, 2021, American Airlines is suspending alcoholic beverage service on flights to & from DC area airports (BWI, DCA, and IAD)
- Through January 24, 2021, American Airlines crews with layovers will be relocated from downtown hotel locations to those closer to airports, and will also receive private transportation between hotels and airports
- American Airlines will increase staffing at DC area airports
- American Airlines will revise its pre-departure announcements to further emphasize the importance of following crew instructions and complying with mandatory face covering policies
Alcoholic beverage service being suspended is possibly the most interesting development here. Presumably this is being done out of fear of alcohol fueling any conflicts even further (then again, I’m not sure alcohol is really a primary motivator of the violence we’ve seen lately).
In fairness, American already has limited service onboard nowadays due to coronavirus, so this doesn’t impact that many passengers. The airline only serves alcohol consistently in first class, and in economy drinks are only available on demand for longer flights.
There will be less tolerance for unruly behavior
In addition to specific airline policies, it’s also worth remembering that through at least March 30, 2021, the US Federal Aviation Administration is taking a “zero tolerance” approach to misbehavior on planes.
The FAA used to address unruly passenger incidents primarily through warnings and counseling, while legal enforcement will now be pursued, in the form of imprisonment and fines. Will the new standard pre-flight announcement go something like this?
“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome aboard and thanks for flying American Airlines. Passengers who interfere with, physically assault, or threaten to physically assault aircraft crew or anyone else on an aircraft will face imprisonment or a fine of up to $35,000. We’d now like to tell you about an exclusive offer for the AAdvantage Aviator Red Mastercard…”
Travel companies have quite a week ahead of them. Different companies are approaching this in different ways. In the case of American Airlines, the company is stopping alcohol service on flights to & from DC, increasing staffing at DC airports, and adding pre-flight announcements that make it clear that unruly behavior won’t be tolerated.
Combined with the FAA’s promise of stricter enforcement of bad behavior on planes, it’s going to be a week to watch. Let’s see which video of bad behavior on planes leads to the first arrest and/or fine.