U.S. FAA clamps down on unruly passengers with fines exceeding US$1m

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The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has initiated three-times as many enforcement cases on unruly air passengers in 2021 than in the whole of 2020. One recurring problem has been the refusal of passengers to comply with the mask mandate. As a consequence, the agency has set a benchmark of US$9,000 as a fine for those who defy the mandate.

Since January 1, the FAA has received 3,889 reports of unruly passengers including 2,876 for refusal to wear a mask. This has resulted in over US$1 million levied in fines on unruly passengers. The existing mask mandate has been extended to January 18, 2022, by the Transport Security Administration for airports, airplanes, trains, and transit hubs. Steve Dickson, FAA Administrator, asked U.S. airports this month to help with the effort to crack down on disruptive air. In March he indefinitely extended a “zero tolerance policy” on unruly air passengers, noting that alcohol frequently contributed to unsafe behavior and urged airports to prevent passengers from taking alcoholic drinks on planes. For that reason, American Airlines has extended its ban on main cabin alcohol sales until January 18, 2022.

Airlines for America, a trade group representing major U.S. carriers, said it appreciates “the FAA’s continued support and enforcement of the ‘zero tolerance’ policy for travelers who do not follow crewmember instructions and who do not abide by federal law.”

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