The FAA Wants Civil Penalties For Interfering With Flight Crew

On Thursday, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released a statement saying that it is proposing civil penalties of up to $32,750 against four different airline passengers. On separate occasions and flights, the individuals have allegedly interfered with or assaulted flight attendants who requested them to comply with instructions and federal regulations.

JetBlue, Universal Hydrogen, Investment
The FAA wants to fine a passenger from a February JetBlue Airlines flight over $32,000. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.com

The numbers of recorded cases of dangerous behavior from airline passengers in the US have skyrocketed over the past months. During a ‘normal’ year, there are usually about 150 reports. Since the beginning of 2021 alone, that number is closer to 1,300.

The FAA was not kidding when it said it would get tougher on unruly passengers. Putting its foot down against disorderly conduct, the Administration is again proposing concrete and massive fines in four specific cases where people just couldn’t keep themselves in check.

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Physical violence results in heaviest fine

The most severe case is being brought against a passenger on a JetBlue Airlines flight from the Dominican Republic to New York on February 7th, 2021. The woman allegedly first refused to comply with instructions to wear a face mask. She then proceeded to throw an empty bottle as well as food into the air, nearly injuring another passenger.

She then shouted obscenities at the crew and became physically violent towards them, both striking and scratching. As a result, the Captain turned the flight around and went back to the Dominican Republic. The FAA proposes that the passenger pay $32,750 in penalties.

The FAA Wants Civil Penalties For Interfering With Flight Crew
An unruly would-be traveler on a Southwest flight in January is also receiving a heavy fine. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

Expensive aggression in Chicago

On January 26th this year, a passenger on a Southwest Airlines flight from Chicago, Illinois, to Sacramento, California, also refused to comply with instructions to put on his face mask properly to cover both nose and mouth. After repeated requests, the man became aggressive and began using offensive language.

A supervisor was called and told the man to get off the plane. On his way out, the man called the flight attendants ‘pathetic’ and hit one of them with his bags. For whatever brief satisfaction that may have provided him, the FAA now proposes he be fined $16,500.

Costly change of heart during takeoff

The first incident took place on December 22nd, 2020. During the takeoff of a Delta Air Lines flight from Minneapolis, Minnesota, to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, a woman got out of her seat. She began walking up and down the aisle, saying she wanted to get off the aircraft.

After the woman failed to respond to the request of several flight attendants that she sit down and fasten her seat belt, the plane had to return to Minneapolis. The FAA says the woman should pay $9,000.

Delta Alaska Seattle
Passengers from Delta and Alaska Airlines flights are being fined $9,000, respectively. Photo: Port of Seattle

Refusal to wear masks results in return to gate

Another passenger the FAA says should pay the same amount of $9,000 was traveling on an Alaska Airlines flight from Bozeman, Montana, to Seattle, Washington, on January 30th. A passenger arrived at the gate without a mask, and despite being handed one by the crew, refused to wear it when he was in his seat, and the plane was taxiing to the runway. The Captain decided to return to the gate, where the anti-masker was removed from the plane.

These are by far not the only incidents of unruly passenger behavior over the past months, nor are they the only ones to become subject to heavy penalties. Long story short, always comply with flight attendants and their instructions. The regulations are in place for the safety of you and every other person on the plane. Any form of rude or inappropriate antics will only serve to delay your journey. And the FAA is clearly having none of it.

Have you been on a flight that has been disrupted due to passenger behavior? Tell us about the incident in the comment section. 

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