Ever since the mob of Trump supporters violently entered the U.S. Capitol building, word choice has taken center stage.
First, they were called “protesters.” Then, critics adamantly identified the members of the crowd as “rioters” and “insurrectionists.”
Some went even further, calling them a disorganized cabal of “domestic terrorists.”
And accusations of terrorism inevitably invite speculation about no fly lists. As in, when all those rioters were finally shooed out of the Capitol—there were no arrests on the scene—did they have trouble boarding a plane home?
The largest flight attendant unions asked for the rioters to be banned from flights.
Flight attendant union says Capitol rioters should be banned from flights home https://t.co/40hzLoLe8W
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) January 7, 2021
After all, if they were willing to assault police and storm the Capitol, how could flight attendants be expected to control them on a flight?
But whether or not the unions’ request was granted is unknown. But that didn’t stop people from making #NoFlyList trend on social media.
Suddenly every video of people kicked off flights were getting the hashtag. A viral TikTok video of a man sobbing and screaming at his gate in the airport got labeled a result of the no fly list.
@heartlessbeechHomeboy had a full toddler level meltdown bc he was told to wear a mask 🥱#fyp♬ original sound – Lizard King
Although the caption stated he was booted off the flight because he refused to wear a mask, he was seen with a mask in the video, albeit under his mouth.
The true motive was made even more confusing by the comments he shouted:
“This is what they do to us! They kicked me off this plane!”
“They called me a f’king terrorist and they wanna f’king ruin my life!”
Not surprisingly, comments on the TikTok video were excited by what looked like evidence Capitol rioters were being kicked off planes.
So when that TikTok video made its way over to Twitter in the form of multiple re-posts, the no-fly conclusion had some traction.
— a sister from the chi (@sister_chi) January 10, 2021
Trump supporting Capitol rioter finds out he’s on the no fly list 😆💀✌🏽 pic.twitter.com/3vC2OXoARE
— chris evans (@notcapnamerica) January 11, 2021
Everyone identified as a rioter is going on the No Fly List. They will never make it to the plane itself. https://t.co/aV6r2VVUWz
— Michael Gallagher (@navyjoc1655) January 11, 2021
But according to some reports, the story may not be so simple.
Thoughts From the Wing, a travel advice blog, explained just how difficult it would have been to put the rioters on a no-fly list so quickly.
“Formal responsibility for the list rests with the TSA and under 49 U.S.C. § 46110 inclusion is only reviewable by circuit courts in which judges are required to defer to the TSA’s judgment about all alleged facts…”
“…and are permitted only to review the administrative record created by and provided to them by the TSA itself.”
Newsweek also looked into the incident.
They reached out directly to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to ask if, indeed, the rioters were placed on a no-fly list.
They received an ambiguous response.
“For security reasons we do not discuss the details other than to confirm that 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.”
“What I can tell you is that TSA is always on high alert. We prepare for all contingencies.”
“As it relates to the No Fly list, we will accommodate FBI [Federal Bureau of Investigation] requests and congressional authorizations related to no fly lists.”
So while we cannot know exactly why that man was kicked off his flight, we do know exactly how countless people across the internet feel upon watching it.
… Where’s green shirt guy when you need him? pic.twitter.com/Hn9RdFqinn
— Lee Trott (@MC372) January 11, 2021
Is he…. crying??? pic.twitter.com/FT5ycsnCH6
— Tater Princess (@ZaphodB42584697) January 11, 2021
Homestly his tears were delicious! pic.twitter.com/D6pHbY5kYp
— Jaime Cruz-Morales (@jcmlink) January 11, 2021
It’s a stressful time for many people for many reasons. But don’t harass flight staff if you want to stay on a flight.
If they tell you to wear a mask, put your mask on, sit down and buckle up.