In response, the TSA is increasing passenger screenings and airlines are banning some guns and alcohol and taking extra measures to keep airline crew members safe.
The airline said it also has revised its pre-departure announcements to further emphasize the importance of following crew member instructions and complying with mandatory face-covering policies.
Bastian said that 99.99% of passengers have been well behaved, but said it would take action against problem passengers.
TSA told CNN Wednesday that it is instituting a second screening of some passengers boarding flights, in addition to standard screening procedures at TSA checkpoints.
“This is a routine practice and represents one of the multiple layers of security that we employ,” agency spokesman Carter Langston told CNN when asked about an account of TSA officers stopping passengers at the gate of a Washington-bound flight to check identification and bags.
“It may occur with greater frequency due to recent and upcoming events, but it is a routine practice,” Langston said.
The screening of Washington-bound passengers is in addition to a heightened security and police presence at the three DC-area airports that has included armored vehicles and a notable increase in the number of visible officers in terminals. TSA told CNN on Monday that the agency is on “high alert.”
Keeping crew and passengers safe
American is relocating crew members from hotels in downtown Washington to those closer to airports. It will provide them private transportation between hotels and airports through January 24, and increase staffing at DC-area airports.
Bastian said on a conference call Thursday that Delta has banned more than 800 passengers since the start of the mask mandate. A number of those have been banned in the last week, although he said that it’s “not a huge number.”
“We’re all on high alert, based on the events over the past couple of weeks up in Washington,” Bastian said on CNBC. “We are doing an awful lot in terms of gathering information and talking to the intelligence agencies both federal and local as well as FAA and TSA. We’ve increased the amount of security, both at airports and in the skies, seen and unseen.”
The Federal Aviation Administration also said it it is launching a “special emphasis enforcement program” to crack down on passengers who “assault, threaten, intimidate, or interfere with a crew member in the performance of a crew member’s duties.”
FAA Administrator Steve Dickson wrote in an order that the agency recently has seen a “proliferation” of incidents of passengers refusing to comply with pandemic-related safety measures, such as wearing masks, as well as an increase in bad behavior “following the January 6, 2021 violence at the US Capitol.” The agency can fine passengers up to $35,000 for violations.
— CNN’s Zachary Cohen and Whitney Wild contributed to this report.