The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has proposed a $14,500 civil penalty against a passenger on a JetBlue flight for allegedly interfering with flight attendants who instructed him to wear a face mask and stop consuming alcohol that he had brought on the plane. The incident occurred on December 23rd on a service from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic.
According to a statement released by the FAA, the person facing the fine crowded a fellow passenger sitting next to him. He then allegedly spoke loudly and refused to wear his face mask. Members of the cabin crew subsequently moved the other passenger to a different seat after complaints about the man’s behavior.
Notably, the man was notified about mask and alcohol policies. However, these warnings didn’t deter him.
“A flight attendant warned the man that jetBlue’s policies required him to wear a face mask, and twice warned him that FAA regulations prohibit passengers from drinking alcohol they bring on board an aircraft. Despite these warnings, the passenger continued to remove his face mask and drink his own alcohol, the FAA alleges,” the statement reads.
“A flight attendant issued the passenger a “Notice to Cease Illegal and Objectionable Behavior,” and the cabin crew notified the captain about his actions two separate times. As a result of the passenger’s actions, the captain declared an emergency and returned to JFK, where the plane landed 4,000 pounds overweight due to the amount of fuel on board.”
Keen to clamp down
The FAA adds that the passenger has 30 days to respond after receiving the FAA’s enforcement letter.
Altogether, the FAA is undoubtedly keen to get on top of such cases involving masks. On January 20th, US president Joe Biden signed an executive order making it mandatory to wear face masks during interstate travel on public transportation by air, land, or sea.
Even before Biden’s order, the FAA’s leadership approved an order to fine unruly passengers or those who assault, threaten, or intimidate members of the crew. These fines would reach up to $35,000, and were introduced as a result of staff fearing for their safety amid tensions surrounding travelers refusing to wear masks.
There are even clampdowns on the ground. Last month, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) shared that it would issue fines for those that don’t wear masks at airport security checkpoints and throughout the transportation network. The group suggests fines from $250 for the first offense. Thereafter, repeat offenders will have to pay up to $1,500, and depending on the circumstances, penalties that fall out of these ranges may be implemented.
The bottom line
The statement by the FAA alleges that there was more than one violation. So, with this and the existing notices in mind, it’s not a surprise that the passenger on this JetBlue flight could face such a significant penalty.
Simple Flying reached out to JetBlue for comment on the incident. We will update the article with any further updates from the company.
What are your thoughts about the $14,500 civil penalty proposal for this JetBlue passenger? Do you agree with this proposed figure? Let us know what you think of the overall situation in the comment section.