SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Aug. 19, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — The Federal Aviation Administration has released its latest list of fines levied against unruly passengers — and a man flying from Salt Lake City is on it.
The passenger was fined $9,000 after a Feb. 20, 2021, Delta Air Lines flight from Salt Lake City, Utah, to Long Beach, California, for his alleged refusal to comply with the crew instructions to wear a face mask, said a news release from the FAA.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s FAA has proposed another $531,545 in civil penalties against 34 airline passengers for alleged unruly behavior, bringing the total for 2021 to more than $1 million, the news release said. Since Jan. 1, 2021, the FAA has received approximately 3,889 reports of unruly behavior by passengers, including about 2,867 reports of passengers refusing to comply with the federal mask mandate.
“Today’s fines are part of the agency’s Zero Tolerance campaign against unruly passenger behavior,” the news release said. “Earlier in August, the FAA sent a letter to airports requesting they coordinate more closely with local law enforcement to prosecute egregious cases. The FAA does not have criminal prosecutorial authority. The letter also requested that airports work to prevent passengers from bringing ‘to-go’ cups of alcohol aboard the aircraft.”
The FAA launched a public awareness campaign to engage with airline passengers, flight attendants, pilots and travelers on this issue.
The largest fine levied was $45,000 against a passenger on a May 24, 2021, JetBlue Airways flight from New York to Orlando, Florida, for allegedly throwing objects, including his carry-on luggage, at other passengers; refusing to stay seated, lying on the floor in the aisle, refusing to get up, and then grabbing a flight attendant by the ankles and putting his head up her skirt. The passenger was placed in flexi-cuffs, and the flight made an emergency landing in Richmond, Virginia.
Federal law prohibits interfering with aircraft crew or physically assaulting or threatening to physically assault aircraft crew or anyone else on an aircraft, the news release said. Passengers are subject to civil penalties for such misconduct, which can threaten the safety of the flight by disrupting or distracting cabin crew from their safety duties. Additionally, federal law provides for criminal fines and imprisonment of passengers who interfere with the performance of a crew member’s duties by assaulting or intimidating that crew member.
“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Transportation Security Administration, and the U.S. Department of Transportation reminded the traveling public on May 14 that if you travel, you are still required to wear a mask on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States,” the news release said. “Masks are also required in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations.”
The passengers have 30 days after receiving the FAA’s enforcement letter to respond to the agency. The FAA does not identify individuals against whom it proposes civil penalties.