Airlines and airports are stepping up security ahead of President-elect Joe Biden‘s inauguration next week, while the Federal Aviation Administration said it will crack down on unruly passengers with stiff fines.
The measures come in the wake of last week’s violent pro-Trump riot at the U.S. Capitol, an FBI warning about the possibility of armed protests, and a series of politically motivated disturbances on flights and at airports.
“Reagan National and Dulles International, are operating normally, and passengers can expect to see an increased law enforcement presence from now through next week’s presidential inauguration,” said Christina Saull, a spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the three largest airports in the tri-state region, also said it is increasing police presence there. Los Angeles International Airport is “enhancing our operational procedures for the upcoming 2021 US Presidential inauguration,” a spokeswoman told CNBC. “We are prepared to respond to any event that might occur at LAX.”
United Airlines is increasing staffing at Washington, D.C.-area airports, including its Dulles, Virginia, hub and crews will overnight at airport hotels, away from the city center, through Jan. 21, said spokeswoman Leslie Scott. The Chicago-based airline is working with local and federal law enforcement to determine if other crew lodging changes are needed, such as in the case of demonstrations in state capitals, Scott said.
American Airlines is suspending alcohol service on flights to and from Washington D.C. and Baltimore from Jan. 16 through Jan. 21, a step it took following last week’s riot. Pre-departure announcements will “further emphasize the importance of following crew member instructions” and wearing masks. The Fort Worth, Texas-based airline will also book crews staying in Washington overnight at airport hotels and provide private transportation to airports through Jan.