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Delta, United plan temporary ban on DC weapons check-in ahead of Biden inauguration

Adam Shapiro and Alexis Keenan
·4-min read

Delta Air Lines (DAL), United Airlines (UAL), Southwest Airlines (LUV), and American Airlines (AAL) will temporarily prohibit passengers flying to Washington D.C. area airports from checking firearms, the airlines announced on Thursday, a week after violent protests rocked Capitol Hill and roiled America.

Starting Saturday, January 16, carriers will ban passengers to the nation’s capital from traveling with guns until a week after the inauguration. Delta also said it planned to prohibit other weapons from being checked during the temporary ban. American said customers who had already departed from a D.C. area airport on a roundtrip ticket and transported a firearm in checked baggage should contact Customer Service for assistance

Delta first committed to the change after the company made the announcement as it reported a steep fourth quarter loss, and in the wake of a decision to put hecklers who harassed two high-profile GOP senators on commercial flights on a no-fly list.

On Wednesday, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued an order providing for the agency to take swift legal action and impose up to $35,000 in fines against unruly passengers.

WASHINGTON DC, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, UNITED STATES - 2021/01/06: Rioters use tear gas while clashing with police trying to enter Capitol building through the front doors. Rioters broke windows and breached the Capitol building in an attempt to overthrow the results of the 2020 election. Police used batons and tear gas grenades to eventually disperse the crowd. Rioters used metal bars and tear gas as well against the police. (Photo by Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
2021/01/06: Rioters use tear gas while clashing with police trying to enter Capitol building through the front doors. (Photo by Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)

On January 6, raucous supporters of President Donald Trump stormed Congress to protest the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College win. The event has put the spotlight on security concerns, and prompted Delta to take unprecedented steps to guard against further violence as political tensions flare.

‘Closely monitoring the situation’

American Airlines and Southwest Airlines did not initially follow Delta’s and United’s moves to ban checked firearms. However, Southwest said it would coordinate with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to comply with any updates to the federal government’s No-Fly list.

“We are continuing to work with the TSA to adhere to any additions or updates on the Federal No-Fly List. We are staying in close coordination with the TSA to remain aligned on the list,” a Southwest spokesperson said in an email to Yahoo Finance.

American suspended alcoholic beverage service on flights to and from Washington D.C. area airports from January 16 through January 21. Southwest said it would keep in place a suspension on alcoholic beverage service already in place due to COVID-19.

American plans to relocate its crew members’ hotels from downtown locations to those closer to the area’s airports, and said that it’s providing crew members with private transportation between hotels and airports through January 24. Southwest and United also said their crew members will not be booked into downtown D.C. hotels.

American and United also committed to increasing the number of staff at D.C. area airports. American said it would revise pre-departure announcements to emphasize the importance of following crew member instructions and complying with mandatory face-covering policies.

“We are continuing to work closely with local and federal law enforcement, as well as our airport partners, and will continue to enforce policies that ensure safety and wellbeing of our customers and team members on the ground and in the air,” American’s spokesperson said. “Our team is closely monitoring the situation and will make any additional adjustments as needed.”

The TSA generally permits citizens to check approved weapons when they fly. “You may transport unloaded firearms in a locked hard-sided container as checked baggage only,” according to the TSA.

Passengers are required to declare firearms and ammunition to the airline when they check in. Weapons must be completely secure from being accessed, although individual locked cases are forbidden. The TSA also says guns must be unloaded.

Editor’s note: This story originally reported on the news of Delta’s checked-in weapons ban and was later updated to include safety measures other airlines are taking.

Adam Shapiro is co-anchor of Yahoo Finance Live 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Alexis Keenan is a legal reporter for Yahoo Finance and former litigation attorney. Follow Alexis Keenan on Twitter @alexiskweed.

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