Last week was a memorable one, to say the least, but it was especially eventful for the Fort Worth-based American Airlines, which was tasked with transporting agitated passengers to and from the nation’s capital.
The first episode of the saga began last Tuesday after a flight from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport had landed outside Washington. A shouting match erupted when supporters of President Donald Trump projected a “Trump 2020” logo onto the cabin’s walls and ceiling, according to The Associated Press.
The scene went viral after independent journalist Maranie Staab posted it to Twitter. In the minute-long clip, Trump devotees can be heard claiming that another passenger had threatened to kill them. Some shout “Biden is a pedophile!” and one Trump supporter yells at a Black man to “stand up, boy!” according to Staab’s post.
Following the insurrection last Wednesday, American Airlines suspended all alcohol sales in first class on flights to the D.C.-area through Jan. 7, according to a spokesperson. (Technically, the company had already stopped selling it in the main cabin because of COVID-19.)
American Airlines also increased staffing at three airports in the D.C. area, according to USA Today.
“At American, safety is our highest priority,” the company spokesperson said in an emailed statement. “We will continue monitoring closely and working 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 enforce policies that ensure our customers' and team members' safety and wellbeing.”
Despite the airline’s best efforts, though, another set of “patriotic” passengers caused a ruckus on a Jan. 8 flight from Washington D.C. to Phoenix, Ariz., according to Fox News. In a video posted to Twitter by a self-described “conservative activist,” rowdy travelers can be heard chanting “USA.”
Then, the plane’s pilot threatens to take action.
"We'll put this plane down in the middle of Kansas and dump people off — I don't care," he’s heard saying in another video. "We will do that if that's what it takes. So behave, please."
Prior to departure, the pilot made an announcement “emphasizing the importance of following crew member instructions and complying with mandatory face-covering policies,” the American Airlines spokesperson said, adding that they take customers’ safety seriously.
Even though most airlines now mandate face coverings, some passengers still attempt to board mask-free.
In yet another viral video posted on Jan. 10, a devastated man bemoans being kicked off an American Airlines flight. Many speculated he had been added to the no-fly list for storming the Capitol, but he was actually removed for refusing to wear a mask, according to fact-checking website PolitiFact.
"Fuck every single one of you," the man says to a crowded airport lobby. "This is what they do to us. They kicked me off the plane. They called me a fucking terrorist, and they want to fucking ruin my life."
A gentle reminder to travelers heading to D.C. in the coming weeks: Fasten your seatbelts.