Alaska Airlines has banned 14 passengers following a rowdy five-hour flight from Washington DC to Seattle late Thursday.
The passengers were on Alaska Flight 1085, which left Washington Dulles International Airport around 5:20 p.m. local time.
The airline said a number of passengers on the nearly full flight were "non-mask compliant, rowdy, argumentative and harassed our crew members" and that 14 of them were banned from flying Alaska as long as its pandemic mask policy is in place.
"Their behaviour was unacceptable," airline spokesman Ray Lane said in a statement. "We apologise to our other guests who were made uncomfortable on the flight. We will not tolerate any disturbance on board our aircraft or at any of the airports we serve."
The in-flight antics came a day after pro-Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol to protest the election results.
Airlines were concerned about in-flight disturbances following the riots and a handful of in-flight incidents on flights to Washington for the protests and beefed up security starting Thursday as protesters headed home. Sara Nelson, the head of the Association of Flight Attendants, which represents flight attendants at Alaska, United and other carriers, had urged airlines and law enforcement officials late Wednesday to ban protesters from boarding planes to prevent in-flight disturbances.
Lane said Alaska does not know what the banned passengers were doing in Washington. Asked if this is the most passengers banned from a single flight, Lane said only that "this is a significant number."
Alaska isn't the only airline with issues on flights out of Washington after the riot. Delta Air Lines removed two "unruly" passengers flying from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport to Minneapolis on Friday afternoon, spokesman Morgan Durrant told USA TODAY.
The airline did not reveal details about the incident on Flight 3765. Durrant said the flight departed for Minneapolis after a short delay.
"As a values-led company, we expect our people and customers to treat one another with dignity and respect as we safely fly them to their destinations, including wearing masks and following all instructions from Delta people at the airport and on-board," Durrant said in a statement.
During the pandemic, airlines have been banning passengers who don't wear masks as required. Alaska said it has now banned 302 passengers since early August. Delta has banned about 700 passengers.
The US Federal Aviation Administration chief Steven Dickson issued a statement on Saturday saying the agency takes unruly actions by airline passengers seriously.
"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," said Dickson, who is former airline pilot..