FAA offers $ 124,500 in fine for passengers who refused to wear masks and assaulted flight attendants
The Federal Aviation Administration is cracking down on rowdy passengers, on Tuesday announcing $ 124,500 in proposed fines against eight passengers who allegedly refused to wear a mask, drank their own alcohol on planes or assaulted flight attendants.
This brings the total to $ 563,800 of fines that the FAA imposed this year on dozens of passengers. The agency received 3,100 reports of unruly behavior in 2021, of which 2,350 were linked to passengers refusing to wear face masks.
One of the fines announced on Tuesday concerned a Southwest Airlines passenger who repeatedly refused to wear a face mask. A customer service supervisor eventually attempted to escort him off the plane and the passenger punched him in the jaw.
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Another passenger had a temper tantrum because his flight from Arizona to Mexico was delayed or canceled due to bad weather. He started hitting the ceiling of the plane and eventually hit a nearby passenger in the shoulder. The police had to escort him off the plane.
Fines are the result of the FAA zero tolerance policy which was announced earlier this year due to a “worrying increase in incidents where airline passengers disrupted flights with threatening or violent behavior”.
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On May 14, the federal government recalled that Americans are still required to wear face masks on planes and all other means of public transportation, even if they are vaccinated.
The FAA has the power to impose civil fines, but it cannot criminally prosecute unruly passengers.
Airlines 4 America, a coalition of American airlines, sent a letter to FAA administrator Steve Dickson on Monday asking for more collaboration with the Justice Department to prosecute passengers who are getting out of hand.
“We respectfully request that the FAA refer heinous cases to the Department of Justice (DOJ) so that the federal government can fully, expeditiously and publicly prosecute criminal acts to the fullest extent of the law and deter this dangerous and worrying behavior,” the letter reads. “As the FAA knows, the recent negative and dangerous behavior is alarming.”