The United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has announced fines against four passengers totaling over $40,000. All of the incidents referenced in the fines were from February and are levied against unruly passengers who refused to comply with crewmember instructions or disrupted inflight operations. This is a continuation of the FAA’s zero-tolerance policy of unruly behavior on aircraft.
FAA levies fines against four passengers
In total, the four fines equate to $43,800 and individually range from $7,500 to $15,500 per passenger. All of the incidents occurred in February and affected multiple airlines.
The first incident occurred on February 5th, 2021. The FAA is levying a $15,500 fine against a JetBlue passenger flying from Fort Lauderdale to Las Vegas. The passenger is alleged to have not complied with the federal mask mandate. Flight attendants told the passenger at least 10 times to wear his mask over his nose and mouth unless actively eating or drinking.
The passenger is alleged to have not complied, and he also drank mini bottles of alcohol which were not served to him by the airline. It is against FAA regulations to consume alcohol not served by the crew onboard a flight.
The second-highest fine is $10,500. This is levied against a passenger also flying JetBlue from New York to Cancun. The FAA alleges that this passenger also refused to wear their mask properly. When instructed by the crew to do so, the passenger allegedly inserted her finger into her nose. She is further alleged to have yelled, used profanity, and refused to read a warning note that a flight attendant issued to her. Her behavior was so disruptive that the captain diverted to Fort Lauderdale. This incident occurred on February 27th.
The third-highest fine is $10,300 against a passenger flying on February 3rd. This passenger is alleged to have flown Alaska Airlines from Boise to Los Angeles. The passenger is alleged to have smoked an e-cigarette in the airplane lavatory, activating the smoke detector system. The passenger is also alleged to have walked through the cabin without wearing a face covering over his nose and mouth and ignored flight attendant instructions to wear a face covering.
The final fine is $7,500 against a passenger flying Southwest Airlines, also on February 3rd. The passenger is alleged to have flown from Fort Myers to Denver and repeatedly refused to comply with the flight attendants’ instructions to wear her face covering.
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The FAA’s zero-tolerance policy
Since January 1st, the FAA has received approximately 3,000 reports of unruly behavior by passengers. This includes roughly 2,300 reports of passengers refusing to comply with the federal mask mandate. Just a couple of weeks ago, the FAA announced $65,000 in fines against five unruly passengers.
To crack down on unruly passengers, the FAA has implemented its zero-tolerance policy. This includes levying heavy fines and threatening to put passengers on the “No Fly List” if they engage in unruly behavior onboard an aircraft. The zero-tolerance policy has been in effect since mid-January.
The mask mandate
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) mask mandate is in effect and covers all public transportation networks throughout the United States. This includes airports, commercial aircraft, commuter buses, and rail systems. The mask mandate is in effect through September 13th.
The TSA mask mandate went into effect on February 1st, after just under a year of airlines mandating masks themselves. The face mask requirements were instituted after public health agencies recommended wearing them to limit the spread of the virus.
Regardless of whether a passenger has tested negative or is fully vaccinated, they must wear a face mask on public transportation. Failure to comply can result in removal from the aircraft, hefty fines, or the loss of the privilege to fly. Passengers should continue to wear a face mask for as long as the mandate is in effect.