A lot of airline passengers have been misbehaving. Madly.
Since January 1, 2021, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has received approximately 3,889 reports of unruly behavior by passengers. That includes about 2,867 reports of passengers refusing to comply with the federal facemask mandate. (The mask mandate that was just extended until January).
The FAA can fine passengers for this behavior and the agency is doing just that.
This week the FAA proposed $531,545 in civil penalties against 34 airline passengers for alleged unruly behavior. That brings the total for 2021 to more than $1 million.
Most of the fines involve the refusal to comply with the mask mandate. But many passengers are also being fined for outrageous and often bizarre behavior.
Here are some examples of the most outrageous incidents from a list released by the FAA this week:
* $45,000 against a passenger flying on a May 24, 2021, JetBlue Airways flight from New York, N.Y., to Orlando, FL., for allegedly throwing objects, including his carry-on luggage, at other passengers; refusing to stay seated; lying on the floor in the aisle, refusing to get up, and then grabbing a flight attendant by the ankles and putting his head up her skirt. The passenger was placed in flexi-cuffs and the flight made an emergency landing in Richmond, VA.
*$42,000 against a passenger on a May 16, 2021, JetBlue Airways flight from Queens, N.Y., to San Francisco, Calif., for allegedly interfering with crewmembers after failing to comply with the facemask mandate. This passenger was also cited for making non-consensual physical contact with another passenger, throwing a playing card at a passenger and threatening him with physical harm. The was more: the passenger was making stabbing gestures towards certain passengers and was snorting what appeared to be cocaine from a plastic bag, which the cabin crew confiscated. The passenger became increasingly agitated and the crew equipped themselves with flex cuffs and ice mallets to ensure the safety of the flight if his behavior worsened. The flight diverted to Minneapolis, Minn., where law enforcement removed the passenger from the aircraft.
*$32,500 against a passenger on a Jan. 2, 2021, Southwest Airlines flight from Orlando, Fla., to Kansas City, Mo., for allegedly assaulting passengers around him because someone in his row would not change seats to accommodate his travel partner.
The passenger told his travel partner he would need to bail him out of jail for the physically violent crimes he threatened to commit. The captain returned the flight to the gate, and law enforcement met the passenger. Southwest banned the passengers from flying with the carrier in the future.
*$30,000 against a passenger on a Jan. 3, 2021, Frontier Airlines flight from Atlanta, Ga., to New York, N.Y., for allegedly interfering with the flight attendants’ deplaning procedures upon arrival. This person tried to gain entry to the flight deck by physically assaulting two flight attendants, threatening to kill one of them, and demanding that they open the door. The captain called for law enforcement to meet him after exiting.
*$25,500 against a passenger on a March 11, 2021, Frontier Airlines flight from Orlando, Fla., to Providence, R.I., for allegedly repeatedly kicking the aircraft bulkhead; screaming obscenities at the passenger next to her; locking herself in the lavatory for 30 minutes; yelling obscenities at the flight attendant after they informed her through the lavatory door that the captain turned the fastened seatbelt sign on and she must return to her seat; throwing corn nuts at passengers and shoving both her middle fingers in the flight attendant’s face when they instructed her to stop throwing the nuts. The passenger was issued a “red card” notice, and in response, she again put both her middle fingers in the flight attendant’s face. Law enforcement removed her from the flight upon arrival.
The list, and the fines, go on – and on – and are part of what the FAA has dubbed its Zero Tolerance campaign against unruly passenger behavior. The agency has requested that airports work more closely with local law enforcement to prosecute egregious cases and asked airports to do what they can to stop passengers from trying to bring their “to-go” cups of alcohol aboard aircraft.