Zero Tolerance Should Be More Than A Fine

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I don’t know about you, but I’m not in the mood. And I get less in the mood every day. The mood I feel slipping away is the slightest tolerance for passengers who misbehave on commercial airline flights. Misbehave is too generous. More like act like complete, flaming ^%$#@&.

You’ll certainly know I’m referring to this story we ran last week describing how the FAA, under its new “zero tolerance” policy, is putting its foot down. The agency proposed to fine a woman passenger $27,500 for allegedly refusing to cooperate with a cabin crew and eventually clocking one of the flight attendants. The woman was defending a male companion who refused to don a mask, refused to fasten his seat belt and refused to stow his tray table.

But the FAA got this exactly reversed, in my opinion. The man should get the fine—and it’s about right, in my view—and the woman needs to spend time in the slammer, along with a larger fine. The relevant code is 49 U.S. Code § 46504. It prohibits interference with a flight crew member and carries sentences up to 20 years for offenses and up to life if a weapon is used. I’m unclear on the fine structure, which seems to set a limit at $25,000, even though the FAA proposed more than that.

The zero tolerance was ordered by FAA chief Steve Dickson after the airlines reported numerous instances of threatened violence and/or noncompliance immediately before and after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. It was the right decision, but how about a little execution? If you can bag life for using a weapon and up to 20 years for other offenses, surely some jail time for fisticuffs is warranted. It could be that this is in the offing if further civil action is contemplated.

For context, I found this 2018 appeal in which a defendant convicted of verbal abuse and physical threat—manhandling but not actually striking a flight attendant—was given a four-month sentence and three years’ supervised release. The Tenth Circuit found no error and denied the defendant’s appeal.

The first-class passenger’s behavior was egregious. He was intoxicated and at one point, a flight attendant felt threatened enough to prepare a hot pot of coffee as a weapon and to have handy a rubber ice mallet and handcuffs. His behavior went on for an hour and a half. When another FA tried to calm him, he said, “F*** you, c***.”  

The defense lawyer’s argument was, to me, laughably lame but perhaps offers a glimpse into the defective thinking of people who behave this way. The appeal argued that the trial court erred in finding the law doesn’t require specific intent. The appeals court didn’t buy that. The appeal also argued that the statute is overbroad and restricts free speech in a way that might, for example, inhibit a customer from voicing a benign service complaint. Perhaps this has merit if you think “F*** you, c***” is the same as “Excuse me, but this airline really has lousy seats.” No soap there, either, said the appeals court.   

Along those same lines, the defendant argued that 46504 is constitutionally vague because it “does not adequately inform a passenger what constitutes criminal behavior.” In other words, you have to tell me how big an ^%$(#@ I’m allowed to be before being arrested.

There are people in the world who think this way. Who imagine that it is their First Amendment right to be vulgar, rude and dismissive of the right of others to be treated with civility. Sadly, it is their right to behave this way.

But not on an airplane.

The quoted code gives some after-the-fact statutory bite to the ultimate authority on any airliner: The pilot in command. The skipper’s unchallengeable authority derives from maritime law because from ships, we learned that when the vessel slips its mooring—or an airplane takes off—an unwritten social contract ensues. Passengers are expected to behave in accepted ways for the communal safety of the vessel. And on an airplane, the captain delegates authority to the cabin crew. Interfering with them—including verbal abuse—distracts from operating the aircraft safely and that’s why the statue is as specific as it is.

Freedom of speech? Sure, up to a point. But beyond that point, a pot of boiling coffee, a rubber mallet and handcuffs may be the response. Put yourself in the flight attendants’ position for just one moment. Imagine being in a cabin many minutes if not hours from any law enforcement and being confronted by a person or multiple persons intent on malign behavior. You’re on your own until it gets bad enough for passengers to self-form a posse, which they will eventually do. But even that eventuality is undesirable. It’s better to keep people quietly in their seats and forestall their eruptions until they’re off the airplane.

Which is why the FAA, the airlines and fellow citizens should tolerate none of this nonsense. So, if you were the judge, what sentence would you impose for belting a flight attendant?

In my court, she’d get two years.   

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65 COMMENTS

  1. For belting, striking, assaulting or whatever you want to call it, I agree with Paul, throw the book at the perpetrator. If that had been my crew member being assaulted I would have immediately stopped the airplane when on the ground, opened the door and thrown the perp out the open door, period. I feel that is my duty as PIC to protect my crew. Fortunately in the charter world I have never been put in that situation.

    I know this will make some responders upset but the Airlines and the government are putting flight attendants and crew members in an impossible situation regarding mask mandates on airplanes. Wearing a mask has absolutely no safety benefit as to the operation of any aircraft. In fact for pressurized planes I still think it is dangerous for flight crews. Just like the 55MPH speed limit imposed by the feds in the 1970’s eventually people will figure that out and start to ignore rules that those feel are unreasonable. Even though my company encourages charter passengers to wear masks and for flight crews to wear them when greeting pax on my airplane once the door is closed my mask comes off and I make no further effort to enforce the mandate. As Paul pointed out I am the Pilot In Command once door is shut. I have not had any backlash because of this.

    A previous article on this incident pointed out that there was no one who obviously saw what happened but failed to step forward as a witness. Unfortunately that is just a reflection on our society not being willing to stick out their neck to do so. If I had witnessed such an occurrence as a passenger I would help out the attendant or crew member to stop the assault. But I will not help out to enforce any mask mandate.

    • We’re allowed to disagree with the experts – I might not believe that masks are effective. Joe might feel that having a few drinks before flying is ok. Fred might think that checklists are stupid. We can think what we want. What we can’t do is disregard the rules. Research has shown that masks save lives – that drinking and flying is a bad idea – that not using checklists contributes to accidents – so the folks in charge created some rules. As professionals, it is our job to follow and help enforce those rules.

        • Your point is?

          There’s a major problem in the mask debate of obsessive control freaks who rant xenophobic ‘close the border’, and a ‘what – me worry?’ crowd.

          Panickers are exemplified by the couple who moved from Quebec to a small community in the Yukon to be safe, assuming they could find work there. Police managed to explain reality to them, so they retreated. And by the couple who flew from Vancouver BC to Whitehorse YT, then to a small community quite a ways away, to get vaccinated – lying all the way about self-quarantine and residency. Then added to their stupidity by trying to mooch a ride the 1.9km to the local airport (they ended up walking it, they were dressed for the cold). Someone dropped a dime, so authorities met them at Whitehorse airport, they face 6 months in jail for their caper. Sweet deserts, he lost a multi-million a year job when their behaviour hit the media fan.

          Ranters don’t stop to think about how much they depend on imports and exports, let alone how much productivity is needed to take care of the truly vulnerable.

          Foytb should try to find a carrier who will accept pax without masks.

          Reality is that a virus is about in quantity, as bad as a very strong INFLUENZA strain, hard on people who are in quite poor health, and many people want protection against it. (Hopefully not many of the people flying are infected, but some people have been desperate to get home.) Reality is that an airliner is a crowded environment.

          Most Gummints botched with bad communication and obsessive shotgun measures while failing to protect the truly vulnerable such as in care residences. (Where by definition people are in poor health, and contact with aides helping several customers in sequence are frequent thus transmission risk high. Some care residences were on the ball, recognizing the risk from news out of Communist China, so took assertive action early and helped staff. Florida learned from Italian experience so acted quickly for care residences, yet was slagged by scummy media for not locking down everyone in the state.)

    • “Wearing a mask has absolutely no safety benefit.” Source: Dude, trust me. Why on earth would I want to listen to top health experts and virologists in the country? When I can get all my info from a pilot. Well got to go. I’m off to get accounting advice from my Uber driver.

  2. 36 years in the business; Line Captain, Training Captain; zero tolerance for anyone who abuses my flight attendants!
    Passengers on an aircraft are required to follow the instructions/direction of the crew; no exceptions.
    This is International Law.
    To the fellow who disagrees with the Mask rules; your mask protects others; to ignore the mask rule is to endanger others; you have zero right to do that under law or morality.
    Perhaps you misunderstand the reason for masks, or how effective they are proven to be in preventing transmission of viruses; even flu is way down where mask mandates are followed.

    • Sorry Brian H, the masks are political theater and protect NOBODY. The virus is two orders of magnitude smaller than the holes in the mask. The virus passes thru the masks about as easily an a gnat passes thru a chain link fence. Hand washing and physical distance are effective means to control transmission – but that isn’t profitable for the airlines…
      I agree that an ^%$##@! who strikes any crew member should be removed, jailed, and fined. Physical violence on board an airplane is unacceptable, and should be prosecuted. However the airlines also have some culpability here. Treating passengers like self-loading baggage, or simply being rude isn’t going to cool tempers. Unfortunately, it looks we will continue to see civil disobedience and political theater for a while yet.

      • Bruce W., yes the virus is too small, but the science shows that when you exhale it rides on droplets from your breath which will mostly be captured by a good mask. When you wear a mask you are protecting others, in case you are an asymptomatic spreader. Certainly as responsible members of society, it is our duty to look out for, help and protect those who are more vulnerable. Wearing a mask is a small way to show courtesy to others, just as when you donate blood, hold the door for someone whose arms are full, say please and thank you, etc.
        And yes lock up and fine anyone who strikes a crew member. You are right about airline travel being less desirable than it once was. I’m glad my plane is ready today to pick up from it’s annual!

      • Most of us here are pilots and passengers not virologists. So if I say “stay in your seat with your seat belt fastened to ensure your safety” I would hope people don’t feel like they have to spend man-years on blogs second-guessing me. By the same token, when the overwhelming majority of virologists say that wearing a (good) mask will help prevent the spread of COVID, I’m good with that and don’t feel the need to go down a bunch of rabbit-holes about droplet sizes and the like.

        • David, Justin, Fred – You want evidence? Here are just a few medical studies debunking the “protection” from masks (mostly using health care workers as subjects). That being said, I will keep the mask handy for occasions when others are present, and/or situations where the required social distancing can’t be maintained – at least until the political hysteria subsides a bit.

          Jacobs, J. L. et al. (2009) “Use of surgical face masks to reduce the incidence of the common cold among health care workers in Japan: A randomized controlled trial,” American Journal of Infection Control, Volume 37, Issue 5, 417 – 419. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19216002.
          “N95-masked health-care workers (HCW) were significantly more likely to experience headaches. Face mask use in HCW was not demonstrated to provide benefit in terms of cold symptoms or getting colds.”

          Cowling, B. et al. (2010) “Face masks to prevent transmission of influenza virus: A systematic review,” Epidemiology and Infection, 138(4), 449-456. https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/epidemiology-and-infection/article/face-masks-to-prevent-transmission-of-influenza-virus-a-systematic-review/64D368496EBDE0AFCC6639CCC9D8BC05.
          “None of the studies reviewed showed a benefit from wearing a mask, in either HCW or community members in households”

          bin-Reza et al. (2012) “The use of masks and respirators to prevent transmission of influenza: a systematic review of the scientific evidence,” Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses 6(4), 257–267. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/j.1750-2659.2011.00307.x
          “There were 17 eligible studies. … None of the studies established a conclusive relationship between mask/respirator use and protection against influenza infection.”

          Smith, J.D. et al. (2016) “Effectiveness of N95 respirators versus surgical masks in protecting health care workers from acute respiratory infection: a systematic review and meta-analysis,” CMAJ Mar 2016 https://www.cmaj.ca/content/188/8/567.
          “In the meta-analysis of the clinical studies, we found no significant difference between N95 respirators and surgical masks in associated risk of (a) laboratory-confirmed respiratory infection, (b) influenza-like illness, or (c) reported work-place absenteeism.”

          Offeddu, V. et al. (2017) “Effectiveness of Masks and Respirators Against Respiratory Infections in Healthcare Workers: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis,” Clinical Infectious Diseases, Volume 65, Issue 11, 1 December 2017, Pages 1934–1942, https://academic.oup.com/cid/article/65/11/1934/4068747.
          “Self-reported assessment of clinical outcomes was prone to bias. Evidence of a protective effect of masks or respirators against verified respiratory infection (VRI) was not statistically significant”.

          Radonovich, L.J. et al. (2019) “N95 Respirators vs Medical Masks for Preventing Influenza Among Health Care Personnel: A Randomized Clinical Trial,” JAMA. 2019; 322(9): 824–833. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2749214.
          “Among outpatient health care personnel, N95 respirators vs medical masks as worn by participants in this trial resulted in no significant difference in the incidence of laboratory-confirmed influenza.”

          Long, Y. et al. (2020) “Effectiveness of N95 respirators versus surgical masks against influenza: A systematic review and meta-analysis,” J Evid Based Med. 2020; 1- 9. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/jebm.12381.
          “There were no statistically significant differences in preventing laboratory-confirmed influenza, laboratory-confirmed respiratory viral infections, laboratory-confirmed respiratory infection, and influenza-like illness using N95 respirators and surgical masks. Meta-analysis indicated a protective effect of N95 respirators against laboratory-confirmed bacterial colonization (RR = 0.58, 95% CI 0.43-0.78). The use of N95 respirators compared with surgical masks is not associated with a lower risk of laboratory-confirmed influenza.”

    • Only you can protect yourself from the invisible boogeyman, nobody is obligated to do anything to protect you. I’m not going to standby and guard your home or vehicle or general well being. That’s on you. It’s not anyone else fault you get sick. You had a choice not to leave your home today but accepted the risks and left. How is that anyone’s fault exactly? Mandate what you want but reality isn’t ever going to change. There isn’t a morality law either, if there was, people would let each other to live and let live. Keep pushing your masktard religion and watch how we will never accept it. I wonder if you could just be honest with me and say you don’t actually care about my life. I know you don’t. You also don’t give two s(*&s about I believe. It disgusts me when hypocrites like you act like they care and know what is best for everyone. Now say something nasty like you always do.

  3. I don’t disagree with your sentiments or position here but — I’m curious — what fine should airline and law enforcement people get in your Court for beating up a doctor and physically dragging him off of an airplane still on the ground who refused to give up his seat AFTER the airline gave it to him and then turned into Indian givers? (Is it OK to say that these days or is Native American givers PC ?). As I remember that story, he didn’t strike or curse at anyone and the airplane was at the gate on the ground and the doors were still open. He was just claiming what they had already given him. Whatever happened in that case?

    • ‘Beating him up’ is assault, for which they should be charged (if true).

      He might sue the airline for inconvenience, IIRC they removed him and a few other pax to accommodate a crew going to operate a flight the airline somehow lacked a crew for. But wasn’t there something odd about his choice of flight? IIRC he was desperate to get to his destination soon.

  4. Speech is protected – you are allowed to say something that I don’t want to hear. Assault is not speech – attacking a required flight crew member or flight attendant should be punished appropriately. “An individual on an aircraft in the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States who, by assaulting or intimidating a flight crew member or flight attendant of the aircraft, interferes with the performance of the duties of the member or attendant or lessens the ability of the member or attendant to perform those duties, or attempts or conspires to do such an act, shall be fined under title 18, imprisoned for not more than 20 years, or both. However, if a dangerous weapon is used in assaulting or intimidating the member or attendant, the individual shall be imprisoned for any term of years or for life.” In this case, it is my belief, that the maximum punishment of 20 years imprisonment is appropriate.

      • I get the impression that not everyone actually understands what “freedom of speech” means from a constitutional standpoint. The specific wording is quite short: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech…”

        The key phrase is, “Congress shall make no law”. It doesn’t prevent businesses e.g. airlines, or even regulatory agencies like FAA, from making and enforcing rules to keep loudmouths from ANY persuasion from causing disruption of their operations by spewing vitriol when partaking of their services.

  5. Statutes and regs regarding disruptive behavior exist for the safety of everyone aboard. Proximity of the belligerent bozo to the other passengers could possibly result in injury to someone before anyone could react, or even without any warning. Sort of like the laws regarding yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theater – fire or not, it’s easy for injuries to occur when a crowd is involved. So, zero tolerance for instigating an unsafe situation.

    I don’t understand the FAA’s reluctance to back up their own regulations. Is it because it escalated into a physical assault, which may place it into the jurisdiction of local law enforcement? Two years sounds OK to me, more is probably better, and I would put Mr Special Privileges in the slam too. If this does not come about, and if in the future we see other passengers taking the initiative to solve similar problems, like the line of passengers waiting their turns to slap the hysterical woman in “Airplane”, then if I was the judge in the subsequent case(s) I’d let the other passengers off with a reprimand.

  6. We’re supposed to “social distance”, yet we’re seated essentially on top of each other. I’m not sure what a mask does when several complete strangers are sitting within a three foot radius for the duration of a three hour flight. Seven(7) times on a recent flight from Denver our flight attendant announced, via the speaker immediately over my head, that not wearing a mask was “non-compliance” and a violation and we would be arrested by “law enforcement”. Then, the Captain came on and repeated the same message. Heard ya! The airlines to a certain extent are just as culpable as the perpetrators in Paul’s article. Commercial air travel even before COVID had become a miserable experience. Bottom line is when you treat people like cattle some people act like cattle.

      • Including reading Bjorn’s articles on risk, in leehamnews.com.

        I have difficulty understanding why people don’t grasp, but perhaps I have read and thought and understand physics

        And I remember encountering pilots for major
        US air carriers who did not understand basics of airplane performance let alone how takeoff limits and speeds are calculated. (I was shocked. And of course they did not want to listen, did not want to study the subject.)

  7. Paul, complete flaming *******s exist all over the place, just drive down the highway or go shopping or go to a special interest group protest/march. While I agree that we should be intolerant of goofballs on planes, if we put every flaming ****** in jail, half the world would be there, and who would look after them … the rest of us?

  8. A few facts about masks that seem to have been missed by some commenters. First, people don’t cough up individual virus particles. They cough up aerosols composed of respiratory secretions which contains virus. Those aerosols are much larger than any one virus particle. Masks do capture a meaningful portion of those secretions and prevent the virus from becoming airborne. Furthermore, masks disrupt the forceful propulsion of air and secretions that are created during coughing and sneezing, limiting the distance over which a person can spread the virus.

    Are masks alone sufficient to prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2? Of course not. Ventilation, distancing, avoiding crowded indoor spaces and other measures also limit the spread of virus. Are masks an important and useful component of a successful effort to limit the spread of COVID-19? Yes, and that fact has been proven over and over. Suggesting otherwise is silly.

    And, yes, physically assaulting a person who is not a threat to safety (ie, not done to defend against physical harm) should be a crime punishable by jail time.

    • Yes. Putting people in jail for years is stupid (sorry, Paul) unless they will be a continuous threat. Charge them for any damages, give them any time that someone committing assault on terra firma would get, and ban them for life from all airline flights *and* public transportation in the US of A.

      • People who become violent when intoxicated should at least be banned from flying until they can prove they have reformed their psychology.

        Some perhaps in prison.

        Alcohol removes inhibitions to subconsciously held desires, thus such individuals are dangerous.

  9. Comments about how mask mandates are nothing more than theater are grossly misinformed.

    Consider that in week 7 of Flu season, last year, the CDC noted 174,037 positive specimens.

    This year, same week, 1,499.

    That’s two orders of magnitude fewer. Don’t go claiming that mask wearing is ineffective against transmission of viral respiratory diseases. That’s “2+2 equals green” kind of stupidity.

    The passenger who would not mask up needs to be sanctioned. Large dollar amounts plus being banned by that airline. And the assaulter needs some jail time. Sure, the FAA is limited to monetary fines, but there are criminal charges to be had on top of that.

    I’m with you, Paul.

  10. Although the hardest efforts I made, I still DO NOT believe that there are still people that think the SARS-Cov2 and the resultant infection, named Covid19 , is something we shouldn’t care, nevertheless the more than 1,5 million people have died from that (not from some common flu).
    And perhaps worst than that, still insist that the use of masks is only a political matter that do not contribute to minimize that infection.
    Being so these kind of people doesn’t deserve to be treated like being a part of society, as it is drawn (if in a good or bad manner, that doesn’t matter now). Therefore, why they insist in using the common means of transportation that that society facilitate them?
    Yes, years of jail and elevated fines shoul be imposed to behaviors like those.

  11. Two years in jail PLUS perhaps a 5 year subscription to the No-Fly list seems about right… For those confused about First Amendment, there are more than 100 years of Supreme Court cases defining when “governments” may restrict or punish speech that is not protected.. Free speech has never been absolute or uncontrolled. And in a commercial setting (for example as an employee or in a business setting or on an airplane..) there are few limits to “commercial consequences” around speech.. An employee can be fired for bad speech, and a customer can be excluded from further access to a supplier.. And then go check on libel and slander case law…

    • People should insist that they don’t have to wear a mask if they are healthy, vaccinated and/or already have had the disease. Logically there is no reason for them to continue wearing masks.

      • There seems to be evidence that those with improved immune response from previous infection or vaccination can still spread. Not sure if it’s conclusive. Furthermore, I’d rather wear a mask than have to show my papers to excuse my not having one, and that’s where this goes in what used to be the land of the free.

        Hopefully, won’t matter much longer. Still, I’ve become a big fan of wearing a mask if you have symptoms. The Asian cultures have this right, it’s polite.

        • Beware of loose talk.

          For example, rate of shedding of virus is a very important factor. From what I read, persons who are hardly ill do not shed much, persons who are quite ill do.

          And beware of media blathering every small bit of research, which often has not been done well – often researchers are after more money to do better.

          As for not wearing masks if you have been vaccinated or have had the disease, that’s not practical. Some people talk of ‘vaccination passports’ and such, I think that’s crazy rash thinking typical of do-gooders. We don’t need that in aviation.

  12. I found it insane they were not throwing the book at them. It isn’t as if anyone can even retreat from the situation. Extremely dangerous and should be treated as a threat to the lives of everyone on board… AND on the ground.
    Perm ban from flying should also be a result.

  13. Again, not disagreeing w/ both the need for a fine, sanctioning and other appropriate punitive actions plus setting a strong follow on example. The female should get “the chair” and the male at least 100 years. That said, there’s something else no one has brought up.

    The male passenger was intoxicated. So he either boarded the airplane that way or got that way while onboard? I can see how an intoxicated person could elude discovery by a crewmember while boarding but it’d also be my guess that anyone seated in first class was offered lots of alcohol while on board either gratis or by paying. If they allowed an obviously intoxicated person to board, they violated 91.17(b). IF they plied him with alcohol while onboard (over a protracted period of time), at some point the crewmember(s) who served him became culpable in the multi-factored equation and violated that FAR. He didn’t instantly go from sober to intoxicated is my point. And, I doubt if he brought his own bottle. It’s possible that’s why the male got off easier? Plus, he didn’t bop anyone; his female bodyguard did.

    I have over a half million miles commuting to work on the freeways of LA in 4+ hr/day round trip snippets(sic). It was my observation that female drivers seemed to be more prone to instant road rage than males. So I think the FAA should come up with another policy disallowing female airline passengers because this one struck a crewmember. You can never be too sure these days. If one female does it … all of ’em might. I came up with that idea because ALL drones will soon need ID because a few might fly over Lambeau field. Same logic applies … no ??

    There’s always two sides to every story and there’s always more to every story. Be careful what you ask for … you might just get it. Now then, I gotta go … I have to go find my Dr. Seuss books to see if I have any of the titles that need burning. I wouldn’t want to offend anyone before the world ends in nine years.

  14. Having just completed a cross-country commercial flight as a passenger I can tell you there is absolutely no way anyone can make it from the curb to the door of the plane without being reminded many, many times that masks are required and are in no way optional. All the arguments about whether they work or not are about as relevant as arguing about whether the seat belt they make you wear is going to save your life in a plunge from 30,000 feet!!! It doesn’t matter! It’s the rules!!! If you don’t want to follow them, then don’t fly!

  15. Still not seeing anything that warrants a zero tolerance policy. That’s because nothing does.

    There is nothing about this story that would have changed had the policy not been zero tolerance.

    Eventually, we will get a story showing how the zero tolerance policy is inappropriate. We always do. And, nothing will be done to punish the weak minded, self righteous fools that put it in place.

    I stand by my earlier posts that the only appropriate zero tolerance policy is one against zero tolerance policies. Fire the poor excuse of a leader that tantrums one into existence to appease the mob.

  16. Just another story of “a man’s (woman’s) gotta know his (her) limitations” combines with “you gotta know when to hold ’em and know when to fold ’em”. Flight crews, viruses, masks, seat belts and tray tables are just part of the scenery, not the plot.

  17. Wow! First, masks prevent the spread of Covid as well as other aerosols. Read and understand the research before you share your opinion. Second, persons who put others at risk for injury or death are engaging in criminal behavior. That is why all societies have devised methods for reducing and preventing criminal behavior.

    • Rich – try reading ALL the literature, not just the few you agree with. Here are a few medical articles which debunk the effectiveness of masks on virus transmission:

      Smith, J.D. et al. (2016) “Effectiveness of N95 respirators versus surgical masks in protecting health care workers from acute respiratory infection: a systematic review and meta-analysis,” CMAJ Mar 2016 https://www.cmaj.ca/content/188/8/567.
      “We In the meta-analysis of the clinical studies, we found no significant difference between N95 respirators and surgical masks in associated risk of (a) laboratory-confirmed respiratory infection, (b) influenza-like illness, or (c) reported work-place absenteeism.”

      Offeddu, V. et al. (2017) “Effectiveness of Masks and Respirators Against Respiratory Infections in Healthcare Workers: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis,” Clinical Infectious Diseases, Volume 65, Issue 11, 1 December 2017, Pages 1934–1942, https://academic.oup.com/cid/article/65/11/1934/4068747.
      “Self-reported assessment of clinical outcomes was prone to bias. Evidence of a protective effect of masks or respirators against verified respiratory infection (VRI) was not statistically significant”.

      Radonovich, L.J. et al. (2019) “N95 Respirators vs Medical Masks for Preventing Influenza Among Health Care Personnel: A Randomized Clinical Trial,” JAMA. 2019; 322(9): 824–833. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2749214.
      “Among outpatient health care personnel, N95 respirators vs medical masks as worn by participants in this trial resulted in no significant difference in the incidence of laboratory-confirmed influenza.”

      Long, Y. et al. (2020) “Effectiveness of N95 respirators versus surgical masks against influenza: A systematic review and meta-analysis,” J Evid Based Med. 2020; 1- 9. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/jebm.12381.
      “There were no statistically significant differences in preventing laboratory-confirmed influenza, laboratory-confirmed respiratory viral infections, laboratory-confirmed respiratory infection, and influenza-like illness using N95 respirators and surgical masks. Meta-analysis indicated a protective effect of N95 respirators against laboratory-confirmed bacterial colonization (RR = 0.58, 95% CI 0.43-0.78). The use of N95 respirators compared with surgical masks is not associated with a lower risk of laboratory-confirmed influenza.”

  18. “The defense lawyer’s argument was, to me, laughably lame but perhaps offers a glimpse into the defective thinking of people who behave this way.”
    Do you mean the defendant or the shyster? :-o)

    Hitting the F/A is assault – isn’t that a crime everywhere? I hope charges are brought by police somewhere, I presume criminal charges are beyond the FAA’s authority. I hope the F/A sues the bleep, and the airline has the decency and guts to back her up fully including with funding.

    Several years ago Air Canada pushed a case in court to make a public statement, that was also against a fem. (Who said females are less violent?)

    You don’t say what other pax did – on SWA the perp would be tackled by other pax.

    On Avsig years ago SOs told stories of recruiting clean tough looking pax nto grab a misbehaving pax if necessary. (SOs were sent back into the cabin to help F/As with problems. Today F/As will need to handle more themselves, perhaps lead/purser positions should be provided with training in boxing and other hand-to-hand combat (police academies could do that).

  19. Paul,
    I agree with your points in the article and have to add that pax are why I was ecstatic to have spent my final 16 years flying the line hauling freight in the whale. Passengers are simply a pain.
    I go back to the days (Mohawk, Allegheny, Lake Central, etc.) of everyone flying in jackets and ties with the women similarly attired. People listened to the briefings, did what they were instructed to do, and didn’t act like kindergarteners loose on the recess yard. I cannot point to exactly what changed or specifically when but I feel that as the levels of “service” (food, drink, etc.) declined in the air, the levels of personal behavior did as well.
    I flew as an FO at Ransome (PAA/ TWA) for 4 years after the Air Force and had only one incident where the FA asked for assistance with an unruly pax. Happened to be a military pax, in uniform on the far side of about 2 too many beers. He was mouthy during loading and didn’t want to shut up or do as the FA instructed. I went back prior to taxi, quietly showed him my retired officer ID and very quietly advised him that the next person to correct his behavior would be an MP and his Sargent Major. He was very quiet and slept all the way to BUF. Most of our FA’s were used to being solo and were very effective with the few unruly pax they faced.
    Oh, and as to the issues with Covid… suck it up buttercup. Yes, folks, there has been both under- and over-reaction with the various protocols. That is called life. Hopefully the “end” is in sight so, if you want to fly somewhere, understand that there are restrictions and rules and they will be obeyed if you want to ride in the aluminum tube.

    • As I’m sure you have, I’ve heard the argument that because airlines treat passengers so badly now, it’s understandable that they act like unrestrained boors. This is unrefined bull^%t. However annoying airline travel can occasionally be, it doesn’t rise to the level of mistreatment unless you’re some sort of pampered princess or a full-up drama queen. If you can’t hack what you call bad service, drive, charter or fly yourself. You have no right to airline travel.

      Bad service never, ever rises to the level of striking a flight crew member. Period. Hard stop. The only exception might be the crew member striking first. If the fact pattern in this case is accurate, the woman committed battery. It can be a misdemeanor or a felony, independent of intent. Ruling out jail time only serves to further define deviancy downward. It becomes acceptable.

      It is never acceptable.

      As for panty twisting about covid mitigation, I’m weary of it by now. I just posted a video on Sun ‘n Fun’s covid precautions and already the caterwauling has started, as though being asked to wear a mask is an impossible burden. I’ll tell you what a burden is: Being told a friend has died of this disease or being the wife of that friend or working in a covid ward trying to save someone you know you can’t do anything for.

      • Well said, Paul. I have become weary of self-righteous people who claim that following the rules is beneath them and they feel their “rights” are being violated by the malevolent airlines or government stooges who write the rules. I am tired of people claiming their right of free speech somehow extends to wearing (or not) a mask in public. Especially because I am pretty sure most of them have never even read the Constitution or subsequent case law regarding free speech. Traveling by airlines is not a right, it is a privilege. If you think sitting in a crowded airliner for a couple hours is so insufferable, feel free to sit in a Greyhound bus for many more hours as the scenery slowly creeps by. Hopefully the vaccine rollout will put an end to all this teeth gnashing in the near future, but then the “special” people will probably find another issue to complain about.

  20. IMJ people who get abusive when drunk should be banned from flying, at least until they can demonstrate they’ve been cured of their subconsciously held desire for violence.

    (For troubled individuals, alcohol removes inhibitions to what they subconsciously want to do.
    Observe that for normal people that does not happen, more likely the individual becomes sleepy.
    And I say getting drunk in the first place shows a troubled psychology – why does someone want to lose control of their own body?)

    And people who defend them should be banned from having a pilot license, because that shows lack of judgement for safety.

  21. James look in the mirror to find the answer to your question. If you’re going to front as a troll for Putin and Trump you’d be more effective being more artful about it by embedding the lies in and among at least a shred or two of truth. The mirror will tell you how what Paul’s blog is about is happening to us.

    • The only thing needing support in his post is that he asserts a connection between the DNC, Pelosi, and left wing rioters.

      Similarly, I can find no support for your connecting him with Putin, and the idea he supports Trump is even rather weak. Many of us find Trump and Pelosi equally unacceptable as national leaders.

      Perhaps you should take your own advice?

  22. Physically striking any flight crew performing their duties to provide safe guidance before, during and after a flight on commercial airlines is wrong with federal regulations drawing the line between passenger conduct while on board.

    The ‘man’ who decided to refuse wearing a mask then adding to his entitlement issues of refusing to wear his seat belt and refusing to fold his tray table is an example of ignorance about safe flying on board commercial aircraft. Where this ‘man’ came from (cave dweller with zero education?) is a mystery to me and qualifies for immediate removal from that flight. Did I miss anything here that this ‘man’ can refuse to wear a seat belt while taxing and take off? And have his tray table down so any movement of the aircraft can induce a judo chop to his midsection as he lurches forward unrestrained due to ignorance of wearing a seat belt? I think Newton’s law applies here but I digress.

    The ‘woman’ companion standing up for her man by disagreeing with the FAs reminders of mask, belt and tray table rules also disqualifies her from flying on commercial flights. I can’t imagine the words spewing out of her lips but striking any any flight crew displays ignorance of civil behavior while on board commercial aircraft and another shining example of self entitlement issues. Removing both persons, applying a very stiff fine for assault and battery of a flight crew should make national and world news for setting it straight on passenger do’s and don’ts for all others wanting to express their entitlement issues – zero while on board commercial airlines. The banned from flight club is filling up with new members as we speak, pandemic or not. Ill behavior contrary to safe flight for passengers seems to be the way until poor behavior meets federal flight regulations. In these two incidents, any fines and jail time will for these two ignorants of rules already sent the equivalent of a public service announcement of how not to be a passenger aboard commercial airlines. The ticket to fly is much cheaper then going against the rules and finding out the hard way of ignoring passenger rules of behavior.

    I’m enjoying this but have empathy for the FA being struck by an ignorant passenger.

  23. I TOTALLY agree, but the tech censorship isn’t helping either. The articles I cited elsewhere which debunk the usefulness of masks against virus transmission are just one example. If you search for those articles in G**gle, they probably won’t be found. You need to use an uncensored search tool. Still, the question of violence in the aircraft is straightforward – it is not acceptable.