FAA Fines Reach $1 Million for Flight Passengers

Published: 08-30-2021
Unruly passengers push FAA fines to new highs.

Photo by Charl Folscher on Unsplash

Photo by Charl Folscher on Unsplash

At Airline Pilot Central, we have previously written about the rising violence in airports and even on flights themselves. Conditions in America make sense for rising violence – people stuck at home and finally traveling again; increased safety mandates; and rising political instability and polarization.

Unfortunately the trend continues. The FAA recently announced that the agency has issued at least $1 million in fines in 2021 to passengers for unruly behavior.

Details of the FAA Report

The total amount of $1 million in fines is the cumulative total starting at January of this year. The FAA announced that they received 4,000 reports of aggressive action from passengers. These reports are given to the agency by the airlines themselves.

The fines are issued for a number of reasons that vary in severity. One passenger was fined $29,000 for allegedly punching another seated passenger and refusing to wear a mask. Another costly incident saw a passenger shouting obscenities while throwing food like a child.

The total of $1 million does also include other offenses, such as smoking or vaping in the lavatories or drinking alcohol when not permitted.

According to the FAA 71% of the fines were issued to passengers who also did not wear their masks as mandated for COVID safety measures.

What Can Be Done?

As the Delta variant of COVID sweeps the nation and some states see a resurgence of the virus, it’s unclear how long mask mandates will stay in place. The mandates are a point of contention for many passengers, and the agitation from having to follow rules they don’t agree with may set passengers off when other inconveniences occur.

Meanwhile, the virus and safety measures, including both masks and vaccines, have been highly-politicized by Americans and our media. It’s unclear if any safety measures will be widely-accepted by the entire population for the foreseeable future.

FAA Administrator Steve Dickson hopes that the police will arrest more people for their unruly or violent behavior. He commented, "While the FAA has levied civil fines against unruly passengers, it has no authority to prosecute criminal cases”.

For some of the on-flight attacks and airport brawls that have been seen in viral videos online, criminal prosecution seems the best course.

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