FAA Extends Enforcement Policy For Unruly Passengers

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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.

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14 COMMENTS

    • Agree. 30 days in the slam would deliver a real message unlike only a fine. $20,000 and 30 days with no early release. I don’t care what Dickson says, when it gets to the trenches of prosecution, the FAA is an easy mark for sharp defense lawyers.

    • Yeah, not wearing your seatbelt should a hundred thousand dollars. The tray table that claims so many innocent lives like 200k and being a jerk, that should carry prison time and masks, well don’t get me started. Should we bring back capital punishment for this or what? I for one welcome a police state where we can finally control everyone. I look forward to peace and unity.

  1. What is different now compared to a year ago, in enforcement?

    Disruptive behaviour has long been a problem.
    Brit and Canuck airlines were tougher than most US carriers (Southwest being an exception, other pax would pile on to help F/As – which resulted in a death one time).
    Brit and Canuck airlines sued a ‘yellow card’ approach to start, pinning it to the seat back.
    And after the fact:
    – Southwest fire passengers (a nofly list in effect)
    – Air Canada took a fem to court, with publicity to make a point

    Perhaps Israelis could coach TSA on ‘psychological profiling’, they’ve been very successful at preventing hijacking and bombing. I’ll bet misbehavers are dealt with firmly.
    Weren’t US airlines/airports successful at preventing hijackings, in the 1970s, by ‘psychological profiling’, before detection machines?

    BTW, where was TSA when the passenger brought booze on board? I thought there was a rule against significant quantity of liquid, to keep explosives off of the airplane.

    Perhaps an alcohol detector is needed in the security walk-though hoop, booze on breath is evident even a few feet away. (Car crashes are occurring for other reasons of course, such as cocaine and marijuana.)

    Problem with intoxicants is that besides impairing judgement they release inhibitions against desires that subconsciously held by psychologically troubled individuals, violence is common.

    • That’s why it is illegal to board if passenger is intoxicated or bringing aboard your own alcoholic beverage. Don’t believe me, check the FAR’s. The airline is supposed to make sure of that. Last thing we need is more BS from TSA. They are already being asked to do things they are not trained for.

  2. Regarding time in jail, note the strong penalties for violating lockdown/quarantine during the current panicdemic.

    Not saying they are appropriate, but I note that the Yukon territory of Canada may put a lying couple in jail for 6 months, plus a piddling fine. (The stupids from Vancouver BC flew to Whitehorse where on arrival they agreed to self-quarantine for several days, but after a day or two chartered a plane to go to a small tribal settlement where vaccination against SARSv2 was being given to everyone residing there. The couple claimed they were temporarily working at a local motel. After vaccination the idiots tried to mooch a ride the 1.9km to the local airport. Of course someone called the motel to verify residence, then dropped a dime to authorities who met them at Whitehorse airport check-in.)

    Apparently the pair had scoped out where and when vaccinations were being offered. Everyone was eligible in the small settlement because it had many elderly people, was distant from acute care, and had people passing through it (on the Alaska Highway). A mobile vaccination clinic was there at the time.

  3. There is no excuse for behaving like a moron on an airplane. Yeah, there are other people aboard. These jackasses should be fined and some sent to jail. No excuses, zero tolerance. An aircrew member’s job is hard enough without dealing with the actions of these kind of idiots.

  4. The idea of screening for intoxication is interesting.

    I would advocate that if it could be proven there is a correlation between being a drunk on a plane and being a drunk asshole on a plane. I’d suspect so…

    I also know its a source of revenue but not serving alcohol in airports or on planes may be worth considering.

    Clearly many people don’t need alcohol to be assholes but it obviously helps.

  5. Since aircraft law (in the air) has evolved from the laws of the seas, maybe they should apply similar punishment to airline passengers that was meted out to unruly or misbehaving passengers/crew on a sailing ship. (Keel hauling, anyone?) 😉

  6. Just as long as this does not turn into a situation where they immediately take the word of every nazi flight attendant having a bad day picking a fight with a passenger because they kept their mask off for 2 seconds to long after taking a drink of the soda they were just handed. I fly quite frequently both domestic and internationally for business, and that situation happens far more often than passengers are unruly. Unfortunately a passenger has to be half bludgeoned to death for the media to take notice of the flight crew overstepping their bounds.

    Flight crews are not police, dispute the fact that they think they are more and more….the last thing we need is innocent people having to prove their innocence in a FAA tribunal where the FA’s word is infallible…

  7. Now I’m lost. People are violating the law and getting prosecuted. Seems things are working as intended. Do people really laugh off the existing fines? I assume there are those who can, but they aren’t that often the problem are they? (Cue the anecdote guy who doesn’t understand how 1% actually works.)

    Has there actually been a statistical surge in incidents? I’m not saying it’s fake news, but usually these things come with a claim of X% increase in incidents. What could be the cause of that? Somehow, I don’t think it’s a lack of laws, Karen’s, or cops.

    If your behavior causes a plane to turn around, are you not now open to civil suits for the costs incurred?

    Is it not always preferable to ensure we are using the existing laws properly to modify behavior before we run off creating more rules and problems? No one can keep up with all the rules as it is.