Airlines strengthening security on flights to Washington DC in wake of Capitol chaos

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In the wake of Wednesday's chaos at the Capitol, some U.S. airlines are responding by strengthening security measures.

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American Airlines told Fox Business on Thursday that the organization plans to increase staffing at the three Washington-centric airports and stop liquor sales on both inbound and outbound flights.

"At American, safety is our highest priority," American Airline spokesperson Curtis Blessing told Fox Business. "We are working closely with local law enforcement and airport authority partners to ensure the safety of our customers and team members on the ground and in the air."

"We will continue to enforce policies that ensure our customers' and team members' safety and wellbeing," he added.


The Capitol breach had resulted in four deaths and at least 52 arrests as of Wednesday, Washington's Metropolitan Police Department announced. At least 14 officers were wounded in the assault.

Democratic Mayor Muriel Bowser said that there would be an extension of the public emergency for the next 15 days, noting that "persons" dissatisfied with the findings of State Boards of Elections and certification of the Electoral College votes are expected to continue protesting violently through President-elect Joe Biden's Jan. 20 inauguration.

Though Delta Airlines would not discuss specific security measures and any additional measures taken, spokesperson Morgan Durrant told Fox Business there is nothing more important than protecting the integrity of security and safety procedures.

"While that means refraining from discussing specifics, we can say Delta continually works with law enforcement agencies and all aviation stakeholders to enact methods – both seen and unseen — as part of our unwavering efforts to keep everyone safe at our airports and on our flights," Durrant noted.

"As a values-led company, we expect our people and customers to treat one another with dignity and respect as we safely fly them to their destinations, including wearing of masks and following all instructions from Delta people at the airport and on-board," he said.

Supporters of President Donald Trump rally at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

In a news release, the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA) International called for strict penalties and fines for passengers involved in the assault and other disruptive behavior on planes.

"Our first priority in aviation safety and security is to keep any problems on the ground. Some of the people who traveled in our planes yesterday participated in the insurrection at the Capitol today," wrote association President Sara Nelson. "Their violent and seditious actions at the Capitol today create further concern about their departure from the DC area. Acts against our democracy, our government, and the freedom we claim as Americans must disqualify these individuals from the freedom of flight."

The group represents nearly 50,000 flight attendants across more than 17 airlines, including United Airlines.

The U.S. Travel Association's President and CEO Roger Dow released a statement condemning the "disturbing actions at the U.S. Capitol."

“The behavior we are witnessing has no place in any peaceful democracy, much less in the country that is supposed to be the foremost example of democratic principles," Dow said.

“With all our hearts, we urge the swift and peaceful end to the chaos and mayhem in our capital city, and that we come together to heal and move forward for the sake of our country and our future," he added.

A United Airlines spokesperson told Fox Business that safety was the company's utmost concern.

"We echo the sentiments of AFA that our first priority must be the safety and security of our passengers and crew," the spokesperson said. "To that end, since earlier this week our crews have been moved from downtown DC hotels. Additionally, we have increased staffing at Washington-area airports and are in close contact with appropriate law enforcement agencies, including TSA and MWAA Police, to continuously monitor the situation in real time."


"We will continue to enforce our strict mask policy as we have done for every single flight since the spring of last year."

Fox Business's request for comment from the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA was not immediately returned.

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