WASHINGTON — Federal officials are going after more airline passengers accused of disrupting flights and interfering with flight attendants.
The Federal Aviation Administration said Monday that it will seek fines totaling more than $64,000 against five passengers on flights in the last several months.
The FAA has received approximately 2,500 reports of unruly behavior by passengers, including about 1,900 reports of passengers refusing to comply with the federal face mask mandate, since the start of 2021.
The new fines by the FAA are proposed civil penalties ranging from $9,000 to $15,000 against five airline passengers. The FAA said in two cases, passengers assaulted flight attendants who asked them to follow instructions and other federal regulations.
An Alaska Airlines passenger is facing a $15,000 fines for disrupting a Washington-Dulles International Airport to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport flight on Jan. 7, 2021. The FAA said the passenger shoved a flight attendant when they were walking down the aisle to document which passengers weren't wearing face coverings.
Another passenger is facing a $15,000 fine for their behavior on a JetBlue Airlines flight on Jan. 10, 2021. The flight was from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., to Los Angeles, Calif. The FAA said the passenger drank his own alcohol twice after flight attendants told him it was prohibited. The passenger also talked on his cell phone during the flight, which the flight attendant again had to tell him that was not allowed. The passenger repeatedly yelled at the flight attendant.
A Southwest Airlines passenger was given a $9,000 fine for refusing to wear a mask multiple times during the flight. Law enforcement met the passenger on the Oakland, Calif., to Houston, Texas, flight when the plane landed.
Another finable incident occurred on Feb. 22, 2021, during a JetBlue Airlines flight from Miami, Fla., to Los Angeles, Calif. The FAA said the passenger was in the main cabin when another passenger brought her a glass of champagne, a headset and food from the first-class section. A flight attendant carried the items back to first-class while the main cabin passenger yelled obscenities and eventually assaulted the flight attendant by hitting him with her body and almost pushing him into the lavatory. The captain of the plane had to land in Austin, Texas, for the passenger to be removed. She is now facing a $15,000 fine.
The fifth fine was for $10,500 against a JetBlue Airlines passenger who was removed even before the plane had left Orlando, Fla., to its destination of New York City. The FAA said the passenger was not complying with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Transportation Security Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation guidance about having mouths and noses fully covered while on a plane. The FAA claims the passenger used profanity each time he was asked to properly wear a mask. The passenger was eventually asked to get off the plane, but he became combative. The FAA said when he finally gathered his things to leave the plane, he continued to scream at the flight attendant. The passenger delayed the flight by 28 minutes.
Federal law prohibits anyone from interfering with aircraft crew or physically assaulting or threatening to physically assault aircraft crew or anyone else on an aircraft. The FAA said that passengers are subject to civil penalties because such misconduct can threaten the safety of the flight by disrupting or distracting cabin crew from their safety duties.