Unruly Plane Passenger Is Fined $32K

FAA attaches some big numbers to its zero-tolerance policy
By Liz MacGahan,  Newser Staff
Posted May 10, 2021 12:27 PM CDT
Unruly Plane Passenger Is Fined $32K
A passenger jet flies past the FAA control tower at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington, Va.   (AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File)

The FAA has had enough of unruly passengers. In early 2021, the agency announced a zero-tolerance policy, and in a press release last week they explained just what they mean. No more warnings and no more counseling—the maskless and unruly are facing stiff fines. The FAA isn’t naming names, but it isn’t holding back on descriptions. One woman flying from the Dominican Republic to New York allegedly refused to wear a mask, hurled obscenities, food, and an empty liquor bottle, and drank some booze that hadn’t been served to her. She’s looking at a $32,750 fine. A man flying from Chicago to Sacramento also refused to wear a mask and used language the FAA describes only as offensive—except for one word. He called two flight attendants “pathetic” and allegedly hit one of them with his bags. The FAA is going after him for $16,500.

More enforcement actions are coming, the New York Times reports. The press release describes two other incidents, including $9,000 each for a woman who wanted to get off the plane during takeoff, and a man whose refusal to wear a mask led to the pilot turning the plane around and dropping him off at the gate. The maximum fine is $35,000. Air travel is still well below pre-pandemic load, but reports of unruly passengers are sky high, CNN reports. Instead of a few a week, there are several per day, even though there are 40% fewer passengers in the air. So far this year, the FAA has pulled 260 potential violations out of a string of reports, and it’s only May. In 2019, before flight attendants were tasked with enforcing mask policies, there were 142 enforcement actions and 159 in 2018, according to the Times. (More FAA stories.)

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