FAA Has 2.5K Reports of Unruly Fliers This Year

Number of cases is way up this year, and air travel is getting busier
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted May 24, 2021 4:55 PM CDT
Mask Violations Make Up Most Unruly Flier Reports This Year
FILE - In this March 20, 2021, file photo, passengers on a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 flight line up to exit the aircraft after arriving at Houston's Hobby airport. Air travel in the U.S. hit its highest mark since COVID-19 took hold more than 13 months ago, while European Union officials are...   (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)

The Federal Aviation Administration said Monday that mask violations account for about 1,900 of the 2,500 unruly passenger reports it has received this year. The agency usually handles 100 to 150 formal cases in a year. The FAA is weighing the allegations, Reuters reports, and said 395 of them might involve violations. In 30 instances, it said it has begun enforcement steps. Fines of $9,000 to $15,000 have been proposed against five passengers. In those cases, the fliers are accused of interfering with flight attendants who either told them to follow the crew's instructions or to follow regulations such as wearing a mask, per NBC. Two of the five face accusations of assaulting flight attendants, the FAA said.

The $15,000 fine was proposed for an Alaska Airlines passenger who reportedly shoved a flight attendant who was walking the aisle to check for masks. "The consequences are steep" for not following the rules and not treating others with respect, Sara Nelson of Association of Flight Attendants-CWA said Monday, adding "the FAA isn't playing around on this." The agency has indefinitely extended its zero-tolerance policy on misbehaving passengers. Air traffic has been rising as pandemic restrictions have been eased. On Sunday, the TSA reported screening 1.86 million passengers, the highest one-day total since March 2020. (The FAA announced big fines earlier this month.)

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