Videos do not show Capitol rioters on no-fly list that were removed from flights
CLAIM: Videos show Capitol rioters who were removed from flights because they are on the federal no-fly list.
AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. American Airlines reviewed two videos circulating widely on social media and confirmed to The Associated Press that in both incidents the people were either removed or escorted off because they refused to wear mandated face masks to stop the spread of COVID-19 on flights.
THE FACTS: After a violent mob stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, social media users began sharing videos of people in airports or being escorted by police with claims that they had been removed after being placed on the federal no-fly list for taking part in the Capitol insurrection.
Two videos that circulated widely involved passengers who were removed from American Airlines flights that originated at Charlotte Douglas International Airport in Charlotte, North Carolina. The incidents occurred before Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer on Tuesday called on the FBI to add anyone who was identified breaching the Capitol last week to to the federal no-fly list, part of the U.S. government’s Terrorist Screening Database. The FBI, which manages the list, said in a statement that it’s considering adding Capitol rioters.
One video, viewed millions of times on social media, shows a man who is visibly upset, yelling in the airport’s boarding area on Jan. 8, claiming he was removed from the flight. Social media users who reposted the video falsely claimed it was because he was a Capitol rioter who was on the no-fly list.
The video, first posted to TikTok on Jan. 10, captures the man yelling profanities. “But this is what they do to us. They kicked me off the plane. They called me a f------ Karen. And they want to f------ ruin my life,” he says.
“People who broke into the Capitol Wednesday are now learning they are on No-Fly lists pending the full investigation,” wrote a Twitter user who shared the video with false claims. “They are not happy about this.” The post had over 20 million views.
“Trump supporter learns they’re on no-fly list at AIRPORT after storming the Capitol, FREAKS OUT,” wrote a user who posted the video on YouTube. The clip had over 400,000 views.
But American Airlines spokesperson Derek Walls told The Associated Press in an email the customer was asked to deplane “for refusing to comply with our mandatory face covering policy.” The incident happened last week on a flight from Charlotte to Denver, according to the statement.
For months airlines have enforced mask policies introduced to help prevent transmission of COVID-19.
“Those unwilling to comply with American’s face covering policy at any time during their journey may be denied boarding or barred from future travel for the duration of this policy,” Walls wrote.
Another clip shows federal air marshals escorting a woman from her seat after an American flight landed because she refused to wear her face mask. Passengers clapped while officers followed her out of the flight.
“Another one #NoFlyList,” falsely wrote one Twitter user, who shared the video. The post had over 600,000 views.
However, a Twitter user shared an earlier video showing a scene that led up to the incident. In the clip, the woman isn’t wearing her face mask and yells, “If we don’t stand up, it’s only going to get worse.” Passengers on the plane can be heard in the video saying, “Put your mask on.”
Walls said the incident occurred on Jan. 11, during an American Airlines flight from Charlotte to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.
“Following multiple requests to comply with mandatory face covering requirements, one passenger stood up and began yelling at flight attendants and surrounding customers,” Walls said. “Federal Air Marshals intervened to help de-escalate and maintain control of the situation for the duration of the flight. The aircraft landed without further incident and was met on arrival by Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Police,” he stated.
To be placed on the list, the government must have information that shows the person presents “a threat of committing terrorism” to the aircraft, the Homeland or U.S. facilities.
When asked by reporters if the FBI would add Capitol rioters to the no-fly list, Steven D’Antuono, the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s field office responded: “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.”
The Transportation Security Administration checks airline manifests and notifies airlines when it suspects someone on the no-fly list is trying to travel. Most airlines maintain their own lists of travelers who are banned for violating airline rules.
This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.
Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: https://www.facebook.com/help/1952307158131536