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FAA Proposes Civil Penalties Against Three Passengers for Allegedly Interfering with Flight Attendants

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) proposes civil penalties of $31,750, $16,750 and $14,500 against three passengers for allegedly interfering with and, in two cases, assaulting flight attendants who instructed them to obey cabin crew instruction and various federal regulations.

The cases are as follows:

  • $31,750 against a passenger on a Jan. 4, 2021 jetBlue Airlines flight from Haiti to Boston, Mass. The FAA alleges the passenger drank his personal alcohol, which jetBlue did not provide, and acted in a disruptive manner. The passenger yelled and waved his hands in an angry manner after flight attendants responded to a report from another passenger who complained about his behavior. The FAA further alleges this passenger grabbed the arms of two separate flight attendants during the flight, and the cabin crew needed to reseat surrounding passengers. The flight crew asked law enforcement to meet the aircraft at the arrival gate, and police escorted the passenger off the plane.
  • $16,750 against another passenger on the same Jan. 4, 2021 jetBlue Airlines flight from Haiti to Boston, Mass. The FAA alleges the passenger was drinking his personal alcohol, which jetBlue did not provide, and acted in a disruptive manner. The passenger yelled, shouted obscenities, and made motions to strike a flight attendant when they arrived at his seat in response to a complaint from another passenger. The flight crew asked law enforcement to meet the aircraft at the arrival gate, and police escorted the passenger off the plane.
  • $14,500 against a passenger on a Jan. 14, 2021, SkyWest Airlines flight from Yuma, Ariz., to Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas. The FAA alleges the passenger during the flight drank multiple 50 ml bottles of his own alcohol, which the airline did not provide. The passenger repeatedly turned around and tried to touch a passenger behind him; as a result, flight attendants moved him to another seat. After he was moved, he continued to bother passengers around him and to leave his seat. At one point, two off-duty law enforcement officers had to physically wrestle him back into his seat, but the passenger again got up and started to walk to the front of the aircraft. A flight attendant yelled at him to sit back down, and the law enforcement officers sat in the row behind him. As a result of the passenger’s behavior, the captain requested priority handling from air traffic control and asked that law enforcement meet the aircraft at the arrival gate.

Federal law prohibits interfering with aircraft crew or physically assaulting or threatening to physically assault aircraft crew or anyone else on an aircraft. Passengers are subject to civil penalties for such misconduct, which can threaten the safety of the flight by disrupting or distracting cabin crew from their safety duties. Additionally, federal law provides for criminal fines and imprisonment of passengers who interfere with the performance of a crewmember’s duties by assaulting or intimidating that crewmember.

The FAA is strictly enforcing a zero-tolerance policy toward passengers who cause disturbances on flights, fail to obey flight crew instructions in violation of the FAA’s regulations, or engage in conduct proscribed by federal law.

The passengers have 30 days after receiving the FAA’s enforcement letter to respond to the agency. The FAA does not identify individuals against whom it proposes civil penalties.

Read the announcement at the FAA

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The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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