SALT LAKE CITY — More than a week after video posted to social media showed passengers chanting "traitor" at Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, Delta says passengers involved in the incident are now on the airline's no-fly list.
Friendlier skies ahead
The word came as part of an update on Delta's financial expectations. The airline posted its 2020 results, reporting a loss of $12.4 billion, its first annual loss since 2009, out of its operating revenue of $17 billion. In 2019, Delta recorded a profit of $4.8 billion.
Delta CEO Ed Bastian said he expected 2021 to bring recovery for the airline.
"We don't anticipate that by the summer, travel will be back anywhere close to where it previously was, but it will be a meaningful improvement, sufficient to be able to drive profitability for us in the back half of the year," he said in an interview with Reuters.
The airline expects to post a loss for the first quarter. After that, how much they can recover hinges on the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine and the confidence of travelers to take to the skies again.
Passengers on Romney flight banned by Delta
A day before protesters pushed their way into the U.S. Capitol and forced lawmakers to flee for their safety, a series of videos posted to social media showed a woman accosting Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, as he waited to board a Delta flight from Salt Lake City to Washington. The senator appeared to be working on a tablet at a gate in the terminal, at first answering the woman's questions before standing up and walking away as the woman followed, still talking. A third video from the same account showed a group of passengers on a Delta plane shouting at Romney.
Delta said in addition to the passengers who targeted Romney, passengers involved in an incident targeting Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., are also now on its no-fly list.
FAA Administrator Steve Dickson signed an order directing the agency to take strong action against any passenger who disrupts or threatens the safety of a flight, with penalties ranging from fines to jail time. No warnings! https://t.co/R6ZunIDuy8#FlySmart#FlightAttendantspic.twitter.com/pxuJ6enQ2n— The FAA ✈️ (@FAANews) January 13, 2021
Each airline has its own no-fly list, which includes unruly passengers along with more serious violators, separate from the federal no-fly list aimed at preventing terrorists from boarding planes. CBS News reports the number of passengers banned by airlines rose to more than 2,700 after last week's Capitol violence.
Bad behavior in the air
Unruly behavior on flights can result in steep fines and imprisonment as well, the Federal Aviation Administration reminded passengers in a tweet the day after the violence at the Capitol. Violators face fines up to $35,000.
The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA called out the behavior in a statement last week.
"The mob mentality behavior that took place on several flights to the D.C. area … was unacceptable and threatened the safety and security of every single person onboard," Sara Nelson, the union's international president, said in the statement.