FAA’s $81,950 Fine Against Unruly Passenger

FAA’s $81,950 Fine Against Unruly Passenger

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During the pandemic we’ve seen more unruly airline passenger behavior than ever before. In order to combat this, in early 2021 the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) introduced a zero-tolerance policy for bad behavior, whereby the agency is asking for a stricter legal enforcement policy against misbehaving airline passengers.

We’ve seen the agency propose all kinds of fines against passengers, and on Friday the FAA proposed its biggest-ever fine.

FAA proposes biggest-ever fines against passengers

The FAA has just threatened to fine two passengers a total of $159,000+ for their behavior on two separate flights in July 2021.

One passenger is facing an $81,950 fine, and that involves an American Airlines flight from Dallas (DFW) to Charlotte (CLT) on July 7, 2021. The FAA alleges that:

  • The passenger threatened to hurt the flight attendant that offered help to the passenger after she fell into the aisle
  • The passenger then pushed the flight attendant aside and tried to open the cabin door
  • Two flight attendants tried to restrain the passenger, but she repeatedly hit one of the flight attendants on the head
  • After the passenger was restrained in flex cuffs, she spit at, headbutted, bit, and tried to kick the crew and other passengers

A second passenger is facing a $77,272 fine, and that involves a Delta Air Lines flight from Las Vegas (LAS) to Atlanta (ATL) on July 16, 2021. The FAA alleges that:

  • The passenger attempted to hug and kiss the passenger seated next to her, walked to the front of the aircraft to try to exit during flight, refused to return to her seat, and bit another passenger multiple times
  • The crew had to physically restrain her

The passengers have 30 days from the time that they receive a letter from the FAA to respond to the agency.

Does the FAA’s zero-tolerance policy work?

In my opinion the FAA has done as good of a job as it possibly could with its zero-tolerance approach toward unruly passenger behavior. The problem is that the agency only has so much power:

  • The FAA has asked airport police to arrest more unruly passengers, as all too often they’re just questioned and let go, which makes it harder for these passengers to be charged
  • At the end of the day the FAA can only propose fines, and then it’s up to the legal system to actually follow through with this; I’d imagine in a vast majority of instances passengers are only paying a small portion of the proposed fine

The FAA claims that its zero-tolerance approach toward unruly passenger behavior plus its public awareness campaign has decreased the rate of unruly passenger incidents by 60%, but that “more work remains.” I can’t help but wonder if that’s really what any decrease in bad behavior can be attributed to:

  • We’re seeing the FAA fine passengers roughly nine months after incidents actually occur, which doesn’t exactly seem like a very timely punishment (I get that the FAA has limited resources and lots of passengers to fine)
  • I doubt many people who are in a state where they think it’s okay to bite another passenger would be impacted by a public awareness campaign, unfortunately
  • I suspect a decrease in incidents can largely be attributed to society not quite being in the same fragile spot we were in over a year ago, between the election and coronavirus (which isn’t to say things are great, but I think they’re a bit less contentious than they were)

Bottom line

The FAA is continuing to propose fines against misbehaving passengers, and has just announced the two biggest fines yet. One passenger is facing an $81,950 fine for her behavior on a July 2021 flight, where she pushed, hit, heatbutted, spat at, and tried to kick, flight attendants.

I commend the FAA for continuing to take action against these passengers, though I wonder how much this actually impacts behavior…

What do you make of the FAA’s fines against passengers?

Conversations (34)
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  1. Alastair Rosenschein Guest

    It is vital that robust and timely action is taken against violent passengers on aircraft. Aircraft are a very specific case when it comes to dealing with violence and a zero tolerance policy must be adhered to. It is also important that the penalties for violent behaviour on aircraft properly reflects the seriousness of such criminality.

  2. Marshalg New Member

    I wonder how many of these incidents involve alcohol. Any information on that aspect of these incidents?
    Marshall

  3. TranceXplant Member

    People who do such dangerous things should always be punished severely. However, I wonder whether the examples in this post are truly representative of the problem. This pair sounds more like the sort of nutcases who always pop up occasionally, rather than the belligerent and entitled types that seem to have grown in number during the pandemic.

  4. Arie Guest

    They should also be banned from the Academy Awards for ten years :)

  5. Dequan Washington Guest

    how about a couple of mugshots?

  6. Mark W Guest

    The country should have no fly list. Your on it for several years and any repeat offenders are permanently banned

  7. Mary Guest

    People who act this way put everyone in the airplane at risk. They should know BEFORE THEY GET ON THE PLANE that they will be subject to harsh fines and arrest (and possibly criminal charges) if they do not control their behavior to accepted standards.

  8. Wayne Hawn Guest

    Really, they are free? My god, those 2 should be in jail awaiting trial... All of the inflight offenders should be on a permanent NO fly list foreverr.... Those individuals who preder no masks and desire to containimate others, should simply DRIVE to where ever they are going.. Get over it.....

  9. Tony Babaloni Guest

    I love it. Hit them in the pocketbook. Perhaps next time they decide to attack people or spit at them they will swallow their saliva and think twice when they approach an airport.
    This is the type of PTSD they will need in the recess of their brain to allow them to think why they are paying monthly payments to the courts due to their asinine idiotic behavior to the people who take care of us during our flight.

  10. Never In Doubt Guest

    Assault someone on the ground: face criminal jail time.

    Assault someone in the air: face a civil fine, apparently.

    WTF

    1. Donna Diamond

      I totally agree. I can’t understand why only civil penalties apply. Biting a crew member or passenger is not an assault punishable by jail time? As for the civil penalties, they should be forced to pay restitution to all the passengers who missed connecting flights and incurred expenses as a result.

    2. Jon Guest

      ...and if the plane has to divert then the person is responsible for the airline costs in fuel, crew, maintenance, whatever.

  11. beachmouse Member

    The courts in both the USA and Canada have additionally found that disruptive passengers who cause a diversion can be financially liable for the airline’s diversion costs to the tune of $50-$90K depending on plane and route. I’d like to see more airlines sue passengers over this and for the verdicts to be well-published because not many folks can take that kind of financial hit and they might think twice.

  12. JimmyJ Guest

    End the mask nonsense and these situations wont keep happening. And what happens to the money? Do the government pukes give money to the victims or do they just piss it all away like normal?

    1. Icarus Guest

      You do realise most incidents of air rage are not related to wearing face masks.

    2. shoeguy Guest

      Wrong. They were happening before COVID and just intensified since the pandemic and you can see that dropping mask mandates across the airlines that have has resulted in even more service disruptions due to staff shortages and other issues emanating from staff (and passengers) getting sick, even if the symptoms are mild, and thus unable to work.

      It is so incredible how a loud, stupid, unintelligent, belligerent minority of fools around the world seem to...

      Wrong. They were happening before COVID and just intensified since the pandemic and you can see that dropping mask mandates across the airlines that have has resulted in even more service disruptions due to staff shortages and other issues emanating from staff (and passengers) getting sick, even if the symptoms are mild, and thus unable to work.

      It is so incredible how a loud, stupid, unintelligent, belligerent minority of fools around the world seem to think that being told to wear a mask means your rights are being taken away. What about a seatbelt in a car? On a plane during turbulence?

    3. DenB Diamond

      Being told to wear a a mask means your rights are being taken away.

      What's debatable is whether it's justified in the circumstances. Believe it or not, there are, in fact, people who do not believe it's justifiable in the circumstances, who are neither loud, stupid, unintelligent, nor belligerent. The majority of such people have as low an opinion of the beliefs of the pro-maskers as you exhibit towards anti-maskers.

      Can we solve this cultural...

      Being told to wear a a mask means your rights are being taken away.

      What's debatable is whether it's justified in the circumstances. Believe it or not, there are, in fact, people who do not believe it's justifiable in the circumstances, who are neither loud, stupid, unintelligent, nor belligerent. The majority of such people have as low an opinion of the beliefs of the pro-maskers as you exhibit towards anti-maskers.

      Can we solve this cultural problem the way some want to solve age old religious wars: by finally settling the question "Which is the One True Religion?"

      Simply demanding that the other side believe what you believe won't get us all to the promised land.

    4. John Guest

      It's not an infringement of rights. Flying on a commercial aircraft is not a right, it's privilege you pay for, and one with certain conditions. If you don't like the conditions associated with the transaction, don't do it. But it is not a right you inherently possess. Abuse it and you lose it. You have to wear a shirt in a restaurant to be served, but you don't see people crying false outrage over being made to wear a shirt.

    5. Chris Gold

      What kind of heathen headbutts someone over a mask requirement?

    6. DenB Diamond

      The kind who wouldn't do it, if there weren't a mask requirement.

    7. UA-NYC Guest

      The same type of mouth breathers who try to violently overthrow the government after a legitimate election win...?

    8. RCB Guest

      Neither of these incidences were related to masks, and the punishments had nothing to do with breaking mask mandates, so your argument holds no water and just shows that you can’t grasp the issue and want to blame everything in what you see as the injustice of wearing masks. That’s a separate debate (masks) and one worth having, but these 2 cases are not about that at all and just show your ignorance more than anything else.

    9. Wayne Hawn Guest

      Jimmy, Hey, really, no masking, have you ever considered getting the help you desperately need?

    10. Aussie Guest

      JimmyJ - clearly one of the degenerates who lose bodily control at the thought of *gasp* being told wear a mask.

      This country is full of imbeciles.

      Masks don’t work but who gives a crap. It’s just a mask.

    11. Bob Guest

      That's good terrorist rationale. If you leave the land we believe belongs to us because some God says so then we won't hijack anymore planes or shoot up people in touristy areas.

    12. Ryan Guest

      Another member of the "party of personal responsibility" who pretends that its impossible to behave if they have to experience even the slightest inconvience during a national public health emergency.

      Followed by the "I hate the government, all the people who work there are stupid and I'm making projections about it because I'm a really really dumb cowardly shell of an excuse for a man".

      Great job Jimmy! Always great to see a huge coward...

      Another member of the "party of personal responsibility" who pretends that its impossible to behave if they have to experience even the slightest inconvience during a national public health emergency.

      Followed by the "I hate the government, all the people who work there are stupid and I'm making projections about it because I'm a really really dumb cowardly shell of an excuse for a man".

      Great job Jimmy! Always great to see a huge coward like yourself out there vomiting out more talking points and pretending like people should listen to them.

    13. William Guest

      I'd be fine if they burned their money in the front lawn after it was collected.

  13. shoeguy Guest

    While an appeals process should be instituted, these dollar amounts are too low and the system not draconian enough given the substantial rise in such incidents. There should be some sort of scale, up to and including a full out "no fly" on the airline and its affiliates itself, or the industry in general, for 3, 5, 10 years or a lifetime ban. Prosecution, criminal record, and jail time must also be on the table....

    While an appeals process should be instituted, these dollar amounts are too low and the system not draconian enough given the substantial rise in such incidents. There should be some sort of scale, up to and including a full out "no fly" on the airline and its affiliates itself, or the industry in general, for 3, 5, 10 years or a lifetime ban. Prosecution, criminal record, and jail time must also be on the table.

    Having had to sit next to one of Long Island's finest on a recent flight from Texas to NYC who refused to keep a mask on, whined about it and politics throughout the flight, and just made a very early morning departure that much more unpleasant for all, the specter of a potential diversion and other issues on board made the experience of flying that much more stressful for many.

    There should be zero tolerance for this stuff and those that create incidents on planes need to be left to walk to their destination.

    1. GLCTraveler Guest

      AGREE totally..............

    2. Alian Guest

      Why not add a flying permit too? Everyone must know all the rules and pass and this has to be renewed with testing every few years. No permit no flying. This way no one can say they don’t know the rules.

      Violations will result in heftier fines and permit revocation.

      Add that to pedestrian as well.

  14. George Romey Guest

    These people should go to jail because that fine will never, ever get paid.

    1. shoeguy Guest

      Yes, and banned from flying for at least a decade if not more, depending on their jail sentence.

    2. GLCTraveler Guest

      Get the fines via payroll garnishments just like the IRS does or child support, etc., etc......!! AND Ban them from flying for a minimum of 5 years, possibly 10 years.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

John Guest

It's not an infringement of rights. Flying on a commercial aircraft is not a right, it's privilege you pay for, and one with certain conditions. If you don't like the conditions associated with the transaction, don't do it. But it is not a right you inherently possess. Abuse it and you lose it. You have to wear a shirt in a restaurant to be served, but you don't see people crying false outrage over being made to wear a shirt.

3
UA-NYC Guest

The same type of mouth breathers who try to violently overthrow the government after a legitimate election win...?

3
RCB Guest

Neither of these incidences were related to masks, and the punishments had nothing to do with breaking mask mandates, so your argument holds no water and just shows that you can’t grasp the issue and want to blame everything in what you see as the injustice of wearing masks. That’s a separate debate (masks) and one worth having, but these 2 cases are not about that at all and just show your ignorance more than anything else.

3
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