Airlines Step up Washington-Area Security Following Capitol Siege
Airlines are not taking any chances after a mob of pro-Trump supporters broke into the U.S. Capitol during unrest in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday.
American Airlines, with a hub at Washington Reagan National airport that is in sight of the Capitol dome, has increased staffing at D.C.-area airports and will not serve alcohol on flights to and from the area. The carrier previously moved crews out of downtown hotels.
“Remain extra vigilant on flights departing from the Washington, D.C. area for the next few days,” wrote Julie Hedrick, national president of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA), in a note to members on Wednesday. The union represents cabin crews at American.
United Airlines, which maintains a hub at Washington’s international gateway Dulles, has also moved crews out of downtown D.C. hotels while it continues to monitor the situation, said spokesperson Leslie Scott.
“We are increasing security efforts, both seen and unseen, at DCA, IAD and BWI, and are monitoring the situation in other locations to keep you and our customers safe,” Delta Air Lines told staff in an internal security update on Wednesday viewed by Airline Weekly.
Southwest Airlines, with a hub at the region’s busiest airport Baltimore/Washington, declined to comment on its security protocols.
On Wednesday, supporters of President Trump stormed and occupied the Capitol during the certification of Electoral College votes for President-elect Joe Biden. The events forced a lockdown and evacuation of the building, including of Vice President Mike Pence. The invasion was called “disastrous failure of security” by The Washington Post.
Washington remains under an emergency declaration for 15 days, or until after the inauguration of Biden on January 20, by order of Mayor Muriel Bowser. However, fears remain elevated as participants in the siege leave Washington.
The fears are not unfounded. Multiple tweets show incidents of Trump supporters chanting “fight for Trump” onboard and violating airline mask mandates on flights to Washington in the days leading up to the riot.
On Wednesday night, Association of Flight Attendants-CWA president Sara Nelson called on airlines to ban any travelers who participated in the mayhem in Washington that day. Such a move would be highly unusual for the industry.Subscribe Now to Airline Weekly