What Is the No Fly List, Who's On It and Will It Be Used for Capitol Rioters?

Following the siege of the U.S. Capitol last week, calls for the rioters involved to be added to the federal "No Fly List" have been made by the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA) as well as members of Congress, including most recently by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

The New York Senator described last week's violent riots as "domestic terrorism" and noted those who stormed the Capitol should qualify as "insurrectionists for the No Fly List," in a letter sent Tuesday to the Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Christopher Wray.

What is the No Fly List?

The No Fly List is a subset of the government's Terrorist Screening Database (TSDB), also known as the "Terrorist Watchlist."

The database "contains the identity information of known or suspected terrorists" and is maintained by the Terrorist Screening Center (TSC) of the FBI, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) notes.

"TSA is among the U.S. government agencies that screen individuals using information from the Terrorist Screening Database. TSA implements the No Fly List through its Secure Flight program. Individuals on the No Fly List are prevented from boarding an aircraft when flying within, to, from and over the United States," TSA adds.

The Terrorist Watchlist "contains thousands of records that are updated daily and shared with federal, state, local, territorial, and tribal law enforcement; intelligence community members; and international partners to ensure that individuals with links to terrorism are appropriately screened," the FBI explains.

Who is on the No Fly List?

The No Fly List as well as the Selectee List (which ranks lower in threat level than the No Fly List) are both "two much smaller subsets of the Terrorist Watchlist," the FBI notes.

"The No Fly list includes individuals who are prohibited from boarding an aircraft. The Selectee list includes individuals who must undergo additional security screening checks before being permitted to board an aircraft," the Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Justice noted in a follow-up audit of the TSC back in September 2007.

The FBI advises: "There are approximately 16,000 individuals on the No Fly List. There are fewer than 500 U.S. persons on the No Fly List at this time. There are approximately 16,000 individuals on the Selectee List.

"Inclusion on the No Fly List prohibits a known or suspected terrorist from boarding a commercial aircraft that departs from or arrives in the United States. It also prohibits an airplane carrying an individual on the No Fly List from transiting U.S. airspace. The Selectee List is used to perform additional screening on individuals," the FBI adds.

Will Capitol rioters be added to the No Fly List?

On Tuesday, FBI Washington Field Office Assistant Director in Charge Steven M. D'Antuono noted that the bureau is considering adding the rioters who stormed the Capitol to the federal No Fly List.

"As for the no fly list, we look at all tools and techniques that we possibly can use within the FBI and that's something we are actively looking at," D'Antuono said in response to a question from CNN's Evan Pérez.

Speaking to Newsweek on Monday, a spokesperson for the TSA said, "TSA is always on high alert. We prepare for all contingencies" and "we will accommodate FBI requests and congressional authorizations related to no fly lists."

The TSA spokesperson added "there are always multiple layers of security in place and that travelers may notice additional law enforcement and canine presence, especially when events justify an increased security posture."

Earlier this week, a viral video of a man shouting "they call me a f***ing terrorist" after being kicked off a flight and videos of other passengers sparked debate on social media over whether these travelers were among the rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol last week and have been banned from traveling.

Speaking to Newsweek, asked whether Capitol rioters could be placed on a no-fly list banning them from travel, a spokesperson for the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said: "IATA respects that individual airlines may also take action to ban disruptive passengers from their airline's future flights through the creation of their own no-fly lists, to the extent permitted under their national laws and regulations.

"However, creation of a globally coordinated no fly list would not be possible owing to issues of data privacy, among others," the spokesperson added.

Asked the same question, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) told Newsweek in a statement: "The FAA has a long-standing policy of investigating unruly passenger incidents. However, the agency does not regulate airline passenger screening or other security measures such as 'no fly' lists."

FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said in the statement: "The FAA monitors and tracks all commercial passenger flights in real time, and reporting mechanisms are in place for crew members to identify any number of safety and security concerns that may arise in flight. This includes unruly passenger behavior, which can distract, disrupt and threaten crewmembers' ability to conduct their key safety functions.

"The FAA will pursue strong enforcement action against anyone who endangers the safety of a flight, with penalties ranging from monetary fines to jail time," Dickson added.

Will airlines ban Capitol rioters?

When Newsweek posed the question of whether Capitol rioters could be placed on a no-fly list, United, American Airlines and Delta did not elaborate but noted they would continue to enforce strict policies to ensure the "safety and security" of their passengers.

American Airlines said in a statement: "At American, safety is our highest priority. 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."

A spokesperson for Delta told Newsweek: "Nothing is more important than the safety and security of our people and customers. Decisions made to remove unruly customers on flights are based solely on behavior that affects the safety and security of our operation including noncompliance with instruction from flight crews."

United told Newsweek in a statement: "We echo the sentiments of AFA that our first priority must be the safety and security of our passengers and crew. We will continue to enforce our strict mask policy, as we have done for every flight since the spring of last year."

U.S. Capitol riots Washington, D.C.
Supporters of President Donald Trump pictured at the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol during the siege of the building in Washington, D.C on January 6. The Federal Bureau of Investigation confirmed Tuesday that the bureau is considering adding the Capitol rioters to the federal "No Fly List." Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images