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FAA Plans $27K Fine, Saying Passenger Hit Flight Attendant

Agency eliminated requirement to issue a warning before issuing penalty
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 26, 2021 4:39 PM CST

(Newser) – An airline passenger has 30 days to explain why he shouldn't be fined $27,500 for hitting a flight attendant in the face. The Federal Aviation Administration announced its proposed penalty Friday, USA Today reports. The passenger was traveling with someone who refused to wear a mask on a Miami-to-Atlanta flight in October, fasten his seat belt, or raise the tray table, the FAA said. So the crew took the plane back to the gate and asked the passengers to get off the flight. When told by a flight attendant to leave, the passenger facing the civil penalty refused and began swearing at her, the FAA says, and then hit her under the left eye. The agency did not name the passenger.

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The FAA said last month that it had seen a "disturbing increase" in violent behavior or threats of it by passengers—sometimes involving refusals to wear masks. After trouble on flights carrying passengers who had rioted at the US Capitol on Jan. 6, the agency tightened its rules and no longer requires a warning to be given to a passenger disrupting a flight. The FAA issued a reminder that it's against federal law to assault or threaten a crew member, per USA Today. Jail time is a possibilty, the agency warned. "We will no longer adjudicate certain of these unruly passenger cases with counseling or warnings," said FAA Chief Steve Dickson said at the time, per Fox News. "We're going to go straight to enforcement." (Read more airline passengers stories.)

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