FAA Fines Woman $27,500 For Hitting Flight Attendant


A woman who belted a Delta flight attendant in defense of her anti-mask, anti-seatbelt male traveling companion is finding out just how tough the FAA’s new passenger behavior crackdown can be. The FAA announced on Friday it’s proposing a $27,500 civil penalty against the woman, who went after the FA on a plane that should have been on its way from Miami to Atlanta last Oct. 19. The woman has 30 days to fight the fine. “The FAA is strictly enforcing a zero-tolerance policy toward passengers who cause disturbances on flights or fail to obey flight crew instructions in violation of the FAA’s regulations or engage in conduct proscribed by federal law,” the agency said in a news release.

The aircraft was taxiing and the woman’s traveling companion refused to put a mask on, wouldn’t stow his tray table and declined to fasten his seatbelt. The crew headed back to the gate to unload the uncooperative passenger and his companion and after they set the chocks the woman came unglued, according to the news release. “The passenger accompanying the non-compliant traveler ignored the flight attendant’s instructions, began yelling expletives at the flight attendant and other passengers, and struck the flight attendant under her left eye.”

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

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  1. This is a good start…but without prison time there is neither sting nor recidivism disincentive for many affluent offenders. REAL prison time not house arrest or Club Madoff.

  2. The charge of interference with a flight crew member or attendant is set forth in 49 U.S. Code § 46504. The crime carries a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison, possible life sentence if a dangerous weapon is used.

    Neither intoxication nor other forms of diminished capacity, which often play a part in these cases, are defenses.

    I see no reason why the maximum penalty should not be applied. 25 years should be sufficient to give the offenders an opportunity to reflect on their actions.

  3. So much for Zero tolerance. The male seatbelt denier got off with nothing and the woman committed a serious felony (Assault) and got off with a small fine.
    No-Fly should have been the minimum for both and a fine paid to the airline for their cost to bring them back to the gate.
    I would hope that the FA would press charges for the assault but you know the company will most likely discourage them from doing so.

  4. You can sell a customer a ticket, but you can’t make them read the fine print, even when the fine print is writ large. So these two didn’t feel like complying with policies with which all the other passengers were up to speed, then the incident is finished off with assault and battery? And now the consequences land on her head? Gee… that’s too bad. Sluggo and Mr Privileged should have gotten lifetime flight bans.

    • Sluggo! Oh my how I used to laugh when he came on the Mr. Bill skits. But we are dating ourselves now, aren’t we! 😉

  5. There has to be more to this story. A monetary fine for assault and battery on a crew member is ridiculous and not enough. Hopefully there is more to come on this.
    Jail time at least. A lifetime ban on Delta for both for sure.
    I wonder how ofter the “non-compliant” passenger was allowed to fly without following the rules?

    • A&B charges will be up to the district attorney. The FAA’s administrative actions will be limited to a monetary penalty. Delta doesn’t put up with this crap. I’m sure the woman has been banned. Probably the other guy too. Delta has been banning passengers that don’t mask properly for the duration of the pandemic at minimum. I’ve no doubt that battering a FA will get them banned on Delta permanently.

  6. Quit dancing around the problem.. By choice, the customer doesn’t have to read anything.. Hit them in the pocket book and deny flying privileges for an extended time.. That’ll bring down the number of outbreaks, if not stop it completely..

  7. Regardless of what the FAA says, Delta should be allowed to implement their own ban on travel for this couple. If for no other reason to protect the safety of their employees.

    It is interesting how the woman was fined, and not the male companion. I suppose it comes down to witness statements and what evidence the FAA has to collaborate the complaint. It seems obvious that numerus other passengers potentially witnessed the attack on the flight attendant when they returned to the gate, but I suppose no one came forward to witness his refusal to wear a mask, fasten his seatbelt, or put up his tray table. All of those are a violation of CFRs too, and subject to a fine.

    • When Delta has been forced to return to the gate for mask non-compliance they’ve been banning the passenger for the duration of the pandemic at minimum. The more unruly you get, the harsher they are. I’m sure these too won’t be flying Delta again, ever.

  8. The non compliant fellow should have obeyed the flight crew,maybe he had never been on an airliner before.Seems like the lady had some emotional problem,maybe stress in her life from job loss or something.Not a good decision to decide to board for them

  9. The a&b charges with the stiff fine, if adjudicated for Delta and FA is already an eye opener. The moronic couple felt entitled to do as they please in total ignorance of passenger rules when flying in commercial airlines. Ignorance and self entitlement deserves the rude monetary fine awakening that sets the tone for anyone ignorant enough to try it.

    This example is a fine one following the ridiculous past of emotional support animals with the height of hypocrisy when one passenger insisted on having her peacock in the passenger cabin. No more phony medical certificates and a clear message to separate phony support animals from service dogs trained, certified and accepted by airlines. Self entitled ignorance once again got away until it became too much before the FAA clamped down on abuses.