At least 14 passengers on board an Alaska Airlines flight from Washington's Dulles International Airport to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on Thursday may be banned from the airline after harassing crew members and refusing to wear masks.
The passengers, who were departing the capital city Thursday evening, "were non-mask compliant, rowdy, argumentative and harassed our crew members," the airline told PEOPLE on Friday morning, adding, "Their behavior was unacceptable."
"At least 14 passengers could now be placed on our ban list for their actions," the airline continued. "We will not tolerate any disturbance on board our aircraft or at any of the airports we serve."
Currently, the airline has banned 288 passengers for violating their mask policy since it went into effect on August 7 — not including these 14 passengers.
This news follows announcements on Thursday by many airlines with flights traveling to and from the Washington, D.C. area that they would be making changes to ensure the safety of their passengers and staff following the pro-Trump riots at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday.
American Airlines, for example, stopped serving alcohol on D.C.-bound flights and increased staff presence in area airports, while United increased staffing and moved its crew members staying overnight in the city out of downtown hotels.
These changes were put in place after videos surfaced on social media of Trump supporters heading to D.C. over the past several days creating unsafe conditions aboard flights. Footage showed individuals harassing passengers (including Senator Mitt Romney) and crew members, refusing to wear masks, and disobeying instructions by flight attendants. In one incident, a passenger was projecting "Trump 2020" on the ceiling of the plane cabin.
In a statement on Wednesday, Sara Nelson, the International President of the Association of Flight Attendants (which represents nearly 50,000 flight attendants at 17 airlines), called for airlines and law enforcement to increase security measures for air travel, noting that "the mob mentality behavior that took place on several flights to the D.C. area [Tuesday] was unacceptable and threatened the safety and security of every single person on board."
"Some of the people who traveled in our planes yesterday participated in the insurrection at the Capitol today. Their violent and seditious actions at the Capitol today create further concern about their departure from the DC area," she continued, adding that she believes rioters should not be allowed back on board. "Acts against our democracy, our government, and the freedom we claim as Americans must disqualify these individuals from the freedom of flight."
On Wednesday afternoon, thousands of Trump supporters gathered to show their support for the president amid his unfounded and increasingly incendiary claims of election fraud following his November loss to President-elect Joe Biden. A mob of rioters forced entry into the Senate chamber and numerous Congressional offices in a chaotic scene.
Police have confirmed that at least five people have died and several dozen police officers were injured during the violent events, as of Friday morning.
President-elect Biden called for an end to the violence on Wednesday, imploring the president to call his supporters off. Throughout the day, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle condemned the rioters' violence, with former presidents Jimmy Carter, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama all speaking out as well.
Although he has continued to make baseless claims of voter fraud, as of Thursday morning, Trump officially agreed to an "orderly" transition of power on Jan. 20, making way for Biden to be sworn in as the 46th president of the United States. The inauguration will move forward, a congressional committee responsible for planning and hosting the events said this week.
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