FAA Administrator Steve Dickson announced he’s extending the so-called “zero tolerance” policy for noncompliant passengers because the message clearly hasn’t been heard by some people. “The number of cases we’re seeing is still far too high, and it tells us urgent action continues to be required,” Dickson said in a statement. “The policy directs our safety inspectors and attorneys to take strong enforcement action against any passenger who disrupts or threatens the safety of a flight, with penalties ranging from fines to jail time.” He said it’s part of the FAA strategy to “do everything we can to confront the pandemic.”
Dickson’s announcement came on the heels of a news release announcing a proposed $20,000 civil penalty against a woman who refused to wear a mask and keep her seat belt on before shoving a flight attendant on a flight from Boston to Puerto Rico last Dec. 27. The plane went back to Boston after the confrontation. The agency is also proposing a $12,500 fine against man who kept drinking liquor he brought aboard a JetBlue flight from New York to the Dominican Republic and refusing to wear a mask last New Year’s Eve. He reportedly continued to make a pest of himself even as the plane taxied to the gate by yelling profanities and leaving his seat to use the bathroom. Both passengers have 30 days to respond to the charges.