Airlines ban DC-bound travelers from checking firearms ahead of inauguration

Key Points
  • Major U.S. airlines banned checked firearms in checked luggage for D.C.-area flights over the next week.
  • Delta's CEO said the airline is on "high alert" after the deadly Capitol riot and a spate of unruly traveler incidents on board.
  • The measures are among the latest stepped up sercurity ahead of Wednesday's inauguration of Joe Biden.
FAA, airlines tighten restrictions after rise in incidents
FAA, airlines tighten restrictions after rise in incidents

Most major U.S. airlines on Thursday said they will prohibit passengers flying to major airports serving the Washington, D.C., to check firearms, further tightening security ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration.

Delta Air Lines, Alaska Airlines, United Airlines, American Airlines, Frontier Airlines and Southwest Airlines said the new policy, which starts this weekend and runs through next week, comes after last week's deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol and a spate of politically motivated disturbances on flights and at airports. Law enforcement authorized to carry firearms will be exempt.

Airlines, airports and hotels are ramping up security ahead of Wednesday's inauguration. Several airports said they will add more police, while airlines are increasing staffing at airports and booking overnighting crews at airport hotels instead of the city center. American Airlines said late Wednesday it will suspend alcohol sales for D.C. flights and provide private transportation for crews to and from the airport instead of usual shared vans.

"We're all on high alert based on the events over the last couple of weeks in Washington," Delta CEO Ed Bastian said in an interview on "Squawk Box."

A spokeswoman for the Transportation Security Administration, which scans checked and carry-on bags, said it can detect improperly checked or undeclared firearms.

The Federal Aviation Administration on Thursday said it implemented a "zero tolerance" policy for travelers who are unruly or interfere with flight crew duties, fining them up to $35,000.

FAA Administrator Steve Dickson on 'zero tolerance' order for unruly airline passengers
FAA Administrator Steve Dickson on 'zero tolerance' order for unruly airline passengers

Alaska Airlines said it will require travelers flying to Reagan National, Baltimore-Washington and Dulles International to remain seated for one hour from take off or before landing. That new policy is reminiscent of a post-9/11 rule that required all passengers flying in and out of Reagan National to stay seated for 30 minutes after departure or before arrival. That federal rule was scrapped in 2005.

Alaska also said it would limit the number of seats sold into the D.C. area.

The carrier last week said it banned 14 travelers on a Dulles-Seattle flight for refusing to wear masks. The travelers were "rowdy, argumentative and harassed our crew members."

Delta said it banned travelers who harassed Republican Utah Sen. Mitt Romney on one of its flights this week. The carrier has also banned more than 880 travelers for refusing to comply with mask requirements.