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The Federal Aviation Administration announced plans to bump up eight passengers on Tuesday Civil penalties totaling more than $160,000,

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The FAA is accusing those passengers of uncontrolled alcohol-related behavior. A passenger violated face mask policies by shouting at crew members. Another is charged with sexually assaulting a flight attendant and smoking marijuana in the bathroom during the flight.

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Sarah Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants, said members of her union have become targets and she is glad that disorderly passengers are being held accountable.

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“When the FAA took zero tolerance policy 13 and made it a priority for the agency that was very important,” Nelson said. “It sent a signal to the airlines, to the airports, to the flight decks, to everyone in the airport ecosystem that this is a high priority.” The priority is, we all have to work to try and stop it.”

This year alone, the FAA received nearly 300 complaints of passenger disturbances due to alcohol and intoxication, the agency said.

The FAA can’t bring criminal charges against offenders, but it could hit them with hefty financial penalties with the hope of sending a message to anyone thinking about acting on a flight in the future.

“Federal law prohibits interfering with or physically assaulting an aircraft crew or threatening to physically assault the aircraft’s crew or anyone else,” the FAA said in a news release. “Passengers are subject to civil penalties for misconduct that may endanger the safety of flight by obstructing or distracting cabin crew from their safety duties.”

(courtesy jetblue airways)

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FAA Summary of Eight Cases

  • $40,823 against a passenger on a Southwest Airlines flight from San Jose, Calif. to San Diego, Calif. The passenger drank his alcohol during the flight, and continued to do so even after a flight attendant told the passenger to be prohibited. The passenger then sexually assaulted the flight attendant. As the flight was landing in San Diego, the passenger entered the toilet and smoked marijuana. The flight crew asked law enforcement to meet with the aircraft at the arrival gate. The police arrested the passenger for resisting the arrest and public drunkenness.
  • On March 31, 2021, Delta Air Lines’ Fort Meyers, Fla. $24,000 against a passenger from Detroit, Mich. The FAA alleges that the passenger repeatedly took off his facemask after crew members told him several times to keep it on. He repeatedly administered oath to other passengers and accused them of stealing their property. When the crew members asked him to calm down several times, he yelled at one of them, “This is America. This is free speech. What don’t you understand?” The passenger was seated in the last row and a crew member was seated next to him as he became a safety risk. He appeared to be drunk and admitted that he drank at the airport before the flight. Then he jumped out of his seat, stood too close to a crew member as if he’d latched onto her, pointed his finger to her face and shouted, “You!” The flight crew decided it was necessary to divert to Atlanta for security reasons, and asked for law enforcement to meet the aircraft at the gate. The flight arrived in Detroit 45 minutes late due to a diversion.
  • $17,000 against a passenger on April 16, 2021, on a JetBlue Airlines flight from New York City, NY, to Guayaquil, Ecuador. The FAA alleged that the passenger drank alcohol that the airline did not serve him, which is against federal regulation. The FAA further alleged that the passenger urinated on the toilet floor, verbally abused the flight crew, and refused to follow the crew’s instructions to wear a facemask. His actions caused the flight to be diverted to Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
  • $16,000 against a passenger on Delta Air Lines’ flight from San Francisco, California to Atlanta, Ga., on January 24, 2021. The FAA alleges that the passenger was told on two occasions that she could not drink her mini bottle of alcohol. Air travel. When the flight attendant contacted her for the second time, she finished the bottle in front of the flight attendant, who talked to her about the alcohol rules. In response, the passenger pulled down his mask, came very close to the flight attendant’s face, asked for the flight attendant’s name and employee number, and began filming the flight attendant. The flight diverted to Las Vegas, and the crew asked law enforcement to meet with the passenger at the gate.
  • $34,250 against one passenger on March 14, 2021, on an American Airlines flight from Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, to Burbank, Calif. The FAA alleges that the passenger refused to wear his facemask several times at the start of the flight, including when he was asleep. When he woke up, a flight attendant asked him to put on his facemask and asked if he wanted a drink or a sandwich. He replied that he wanted a refund for the flight as it was dropped for food and drink service. The flight attendant said they could not offer a refund and was initially not offered the service because he was sleeping. He refused service and refused to wear his mask. A second flight attendant brought her a new mask and after several attempts to serve it to her, she requested an alcoholic drink. The flight attendant made and delivered the drink. After finishing the drink, a flight attendant reminded him to wear his mask between sips and after drinking. He argued that he was drinking and brought the empty glass to his lips. He continued to be belligerent during the flight and requested another alcoholic drink. She was served another drink, but the drink was thrown on the floor and rammed on it while the flight attendant was serving other passengers. He approached the flight attendant asking for a third alcoholic drink when a nearby passenger said he had enough to drink and was out of line. The passenger started abusing other passengers and crew. A flight attendant worsened the situation, and law enforcement was requested to meet the passenger at the arrival gate. He continued to not wear his mask properly for the rest of the flight.
  • $12,500 against a passenger on a Southwest Airlines flight from Dallas, Texas to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., with a stop in Nashville, Tenn. The FAA alleges that during flights, the flight attendant had to ask the passenger to wear his mask several times. properly on his mouth and nose. While stopping in Nashville, he drank his alcohol mixed with soft drinks on the plane. A flight attendant told him it was banned and confiscated the drink. After a Southwest Airlines operating agent boarded the plane and asked her not to consume her alcohol and wear her facemask, she agreed. However, during a flight from Nashville to Fort Lauderdale, he went to the toilet, mixed his alcohol with a soft drink, and threw the empty wine bottle into the toilet. When the flight attendant tried to confiscate the drink, he quickly drank. The crew contacted law enforcement and gate security in Fort Lauderdale, and the passenger was ejected from the plane. The flight attendant later found several empty mini liquor bottles from her.
  • $9,000 against a passenger on a February 3, 2021, United Airlines flight from Chicago, Ill., to Windsor Locks, Conn. The FAA alleges that, when the flight attendant told the passenger that no alcoholic beverages or snacks were available, he shouted and abused them. He continued to yell and use abusive language after a flight attendant prompted him to look at the drinks cart because alcohol or snacks were not available. The passenger also took off his facemask repeatedly throughout the flight. A flight attendant requested the captain to have a customer service representative meet the passenger at the arrival gate. The passenger then intervened with the flight attendant by taking pictures and videos of the flight attendant. The captain and first officer were contacted a second time to request law enforcement to meet the passenger at the gate.
  • $8,250 against one passenger on May 14, 2021, Allegiant Air flight from Grand Rapids, Michigan to Punta Gorda, Fla. The FAA alleges that during in-flight beverage service, the passenger and three others ordered Bloody Mary mixes and ice. The passenger then took out a bottle of vodka from his carry-on bag. Despite warnings from a crew member that he could not drink his own wine, he gave the bottle to the other three passengers. A crew member saw her consuming her own wine, informed her about the re-enforcement, and asked her to hand over the bottle. The passenger handed over an empty and half-filled bottle, and told the crew member to “Kiss my a** and walk away.” The passenger again became loud, argumentative and rude. When a crew member warned him that his behavior violated FAA rules, he broke it down, threw it, gave the crew a vulgar name, and dismounted as he walked from his seat.

Source: FAA.gov News Release