The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) proposes a $27,500 civil penalty against an airline passenger for allegedly interfering with and assaulting a flight attendant.
The FAA alleges that on an Oct. 19, 2020, Delta Air Lines flight from Miami, Fla., to Atlanta, Ga., the passenger was traveling with and sitting next to another passenger who refused to wear his mask, secure his seat tray table, and fasten his seatbelt. The flight returned to the gate as a result of the passenger’s refusal to follow the flight attendant’s instructions.
When the flight returned to the gate, flight attendants asked the two passengers to voluntarily get off the plane. In response, the passenger accompanying the non-compliant traveler ignored the flight attendant’s instructions, began yelling expletives at the flight attendant and other passengers, and struck the flight attendant under her left eye.
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 or fail to obey flight crew instructions in violation of the FAA’s regulations or engage in conduct proscribed by federal law.
The passenger has 30 days after receiving the FAA’s enforcement letter to respond to the agency.