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FAA levies $225K in fines against unruly passengers this year

faa federal aviation administration passenger incidents flights mask covid-19 protocol fines
COOPER NEILL/AFP via Getty Images
An exterior view of an American Airlines B737 MAX airplane is seen at Dallas-Forth Worth International Airport in Dallas, Texas on December 2, 2020.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced more than $225,000 in fines for 10 airline passengers accused of assault since the start of the year. 

The proposed fines ranged from $9,000 to $32,000 per person, according to an FAA press release published on Wednesday.

The offending behavior included a woman who refused to fasten her seatbelt and threw trash at a flight attendant, a woman who spat on a flight crew member and others who cursed at and shoved flight attendants. 

One American Airlines passenger had a proposed fine of $23,000 for reportedly striking a flight attendant because she was upset that her seat did not recline. 

A JetBlue Airlines passenger who yelled profanities and pushed a flight attendant faces a fine of $17,500. Another Southwest Airlines passenger was fined $24,000 for failing to wear a face mask and intentionally elbowing and kicking an attendant who was picking up trash. 

The FAA said it does not publicly identify the people whom it proposes civil penalties against, noting that passengers involved have 30 days to respond to the agency once informed of the proposed fines.

The fines are part of the stricter policy for handling unruly passengers adopted in January. Per that policy, FAA Administrator Steve Dickson instructed “FAA safety inspectors and attorneys to pursue legal enforcement action against any passenger who assaults, threatens, intimidates, or interferes with airline crew members.”

Just last week, six Democratic House members wrote to the Department of Justice to ask that Attorney General Merrick Garland prosecute problematic passengers and “to express our concern regarding the disturbing instances of air and airport passenger rage.” 

“It is well documented that our nation has witnessed a sharp increase in air and airport confrontational behavior, particularly since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the letter said.

Tags Aviation safety Eddie Bernice Johnson Eleanor Holmes Norton Federal Aviation Administration Frederica Wilson Jake Auchincloss Merrick Garland unruly passengers

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