On Tuesday, multiple sources were reporting that federal officials will extend until at least mid-January the requirement that travelers must wear face masks on commercial airplanes, in airports, and on other forms of public transportation.
The Transportation Security Administration’s current transportation mask mandate is set to expire on Sept. 13. The agency is expected to extend the mandate until Jan. 18.
The mask mandate makes sense, given the rising rates of COVID-19 due to the delta variant. But there are likely to be people who are unhappy with that requirement. Some of those people will likely end up in the FAA’s unruly passenger list.
No official tweet from TSA on the mask mandate as of late Tuesday night, but TSA did post something earlier in the day about the latest pups in competition for the agency’s Cutest Canine Contest.
Dogs are cool, but cat lovers at some airports made sure to celebrate Black Cat Appreciation Day on Tuesday as well.
As airline passenger volume ticks up, many passengers are packing something the Transportation Security Administration and airlines would rather they’d leave home: a combative attitude.
“Passengers do not arrive at an airport or board a plane with the intent of becoming unruly or violent; however, what is an exciting return to travel for some may be a more difficult experience for others, which can lead to unexpected, and unacceptable, behaviors,” said Darby LaJoye, TSA Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Administrator.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is reporting an alarming spike in incidents of unruly passengers.
Here is part of a table from the FAA showing all the cases investigated that cited violations of one or more FAA regulations or federal laws.
There are 3,082 incidents so far in 2021, compared to fewer than 200 cases in any of the past five years.
You’ve no doubt seen and read about all the crazy incidents on planes with passengers refusing to comply with federal regulations to wear face masks. But not as well-publicized are the incidents that have been taking place in airports.
TSA shared this in a statement:
“Two separate incidents this month have triggered referrals to law enforcement for passengers in Louisville, KY and Denver, CO. In Louisville, a passenger allegedly assaulted two TSOs while attempting to breach the exit lane and is facing state criminal charges for criminal trespass, fleeing and evading police, misdemeanor assault, and resisting arrest. The Denver incident involved a passenger allegedly biting two TSOs and remains under investigation. Both passengers also face a potential civil penalty of up to $13,910 for each violation of TSA security requirements.”
Here’s something that may help:
In early July the TSA is restarting its Crew Member Self-Defense (CMSD) training. Under the voluntary program, which was paused due to COVID-19 restrictions, Federal Air Marshals train flight crew members in defensive measure techniques for responding against an attacker in a commercial passenger or cargo aircraft.
During the training, flight crew members learn to identify and deter potential threats, and if needed, apply the self-defense techniques against attackers. The four-hour training is offered to flight crew members free of charge and is held at 24 locations around the United States.
“Through this training program, TSA’s Federal Air Marshals are able to impart their specialized expertise in defending against and de-escalating an attack while in an aircraft environment,” said LaJoye, “
Sara Nelson, the president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, would like the course to be compulsory.
Assaulting or threatening a member of the flight crew is a federal crime and perpetrators may face civil penalties, criminal fines, or imprisonment. In May 2021 alone, the FAA proposed civil penalties ranging from $9,000 to $15,000 against five airline passengers for allegedly interfering with and, in two cases, assaulting flight attendants who instructed them to obey cabin crew instructions and various federal regulations.
Citing “a disturbing increase in incidents where airline passengers have disrupted flights with threatening or violent behavior,” the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said Wednesday it will ratchet up its legal enforcement policies.
“These incidents have stemmed both from passengers’ refusals to wear masks and from recent violence at the U.S. Capitol, ” the FAA said in a statement.
The FAA says up to now it has been addressing unruly passenger incidents with warnings, counseling, and civil penalties. (Counseling?)
But effective immediately and through at least March 30, 2021, “the agency will pursue legal enforcement action against any passenger who assaults, threatens, intimidates, or interferes with airline crew members.”
That legal enforcement may include fines of up to $35,000 and imprisonment.
There have been some scary incidents onboard planes recently. Including on Friday, January 8, two days after a mob of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol building, when an American Airlines pilot threatened to put the plane down “in the middle of Kansas” in response to chanting, unruly passengers.
While we’re all staying home, it’s good to know Santa and his team are going to be flying around the world.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is helping out.
The FAA says that on Christmas Eve Santa Claus and his reindeer-powered sleigh will have special operating authority to conduct interstate air-cargo-delivery services directly to rooftops throughout the United States.
The FAA is also giving Santa a special commercial space license. This clears Santa for a crewed mission to the International Space Station. He’ll travel there in his StarSleigh-1 space capsule powered by the Rudolph Rocket.
“We are pleased to help Santa safely navigate through the National Airspace System to bring his unique and universal brand of goodwill and joy to children and adults of all ages. Even to those orbiting the Earth,” said FAA Administrator Steve Dickson. “Let’s face it, 2020 was a difficult year and we all could use some special holiday cheer that only Santa can deliver.”
Getting toys under trees is Santa’s traditional goal on Christmas Eve. But the FAA said that this year Santa will give priority to flights carrying COVID-19 vaccines and other critical cargo.
But don’t fret.
The FAA says that with the aid of a flight plan taking advantage of simplified air routes and NextGen satellite navigation, Santa will still deliver all his gifts by Christmas morning.
Want to follow Santa on his journey? (Or impress a small child that you have that power?) NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defense Command has a nifty NORAD Tracks Santa site that follows Santa around the world in real-time.
United Airlines’ final charter flight to say goodbye to the airline’s fleet of 747 airccraft, was quite a party and you can see my story and photos on the event on the Runway Girl Network.
But during all the hoopla, a representative of the flight attendant’s union mentioned to me that debate over a change in the 747 design back in the mid-1980s spurred an important safety rule – the FAA’s 60-foot rule – that applies to just about all airplanes today.
The short version of the story is that in 1984 Boeing proposed taking out a set of exit doors on the 747 jumbo jet to make more room for seats. Flight attendants and pilots – and their unions – raised concerns over the ability to get everyone off the plane in an emergency without those doors and pushed back.
The Federal Aviation Administration ruled on the side of safety.
Read my full story on how this came about in my Runway Girl Network story here.