2 Unruly Flight Passengers Could Face FAA’s Largest-Ever Fines

The Federal Aviation Administration said on Friday it wanted to impose its largest-ever fines against two airline passengers involved in violent incidents last summer.

The FAA has proposed a civil penalty of $81,950 against a female passenger who punched a flight attendant in the head, attempted to open a cabin door, and headbutted, spat, and attempted to kick foot to crew members and passengers even after being placed in flexible handcuffs. The incident happened on an American Airlines flight last July and the passenger was later arrested.

The FAA is also seeking a $77,272 fine from a woman who attempted to open a cabin door during a flight and repeatedly bit another passenger before being restrained by crew on a Delta Air Lines flight from Las Vegas to Atlanta last July.

Delta flight hijacked due to unruly passenger


The passengers, none of whom have been identified, have 30 days to respond to the charges.

The FAA said the fines are part of about $2 million in proposed penalties it has announced since Jan. 1.

Airlines have reported a high number of unruly passenger incidents since the start of 2021, most of them involving passengers who refuse to wear face masks. Airlines began enforcing federal mask mandates in June 2020, and the FAA implemented its zero-tolerance policy for unruly behavior in January 2021.

There has been an “unprecedented rise in violent passenger assaults,” said Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants, told a US Senate hearing in December. The increase in the number of unruly passengers prompted Delta Airlines to push for a federal no-fly list. Delta has already banned 1,600 passengers on his own planes.

Airlines have reported 1,081 unruly passenger incidents so far in 2022, according to the FAA. About 700 of those incidents involved face masks, the agency said.

For example, a recent AeroMéxico flight from Toronto to Mexico City was diverted to Texas because three passengers appeared inebriated refused to wear their masks.

Assaulting a flight crew member is a federal offense punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Passengers who have been fined for assaulting, threatening, intimidating or interfering with a crew member could be removed from TSA PreCheck screening eligibility, the Transportation Security Administration and Federal Aviation Administration said.

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