The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is cracking down on unruly passenger behavior, handing two airline passengers the largest fines yet as part of its “zero tolerance” policy towards disruptive behavior. They’re being hit with fines of $81,950 and $77,272 for their alleged improper behavior.
“If you are on an airplane, don’t be a jerk and don’t endanger the flight crews and fellow passengers,” US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said on the talk show The View on Friday. “If you do, you will be fined by the FAA.”
And they were. According to the FAA, the passenger that received the $81,950 fine was on an American Airlines flight from Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas on July 7, 2021 when she assaulted the crew and other passengers. A flight attendant tried to help the passenger up after she fell in the aisle, to which she responded by threatening to hurt the flight attendant, pushing them aside and even trying to open the cabin door. Two flight attendants tried to restrain her, but she kept hitting one of them over the head. After the passenger was put in flex cuffs, it still wasn’t over as she continued to head-butt, spit, bite and kick crew members and other passengers. The passenger was arrested when the plane landed in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The second incident involved a passenger on a Delta Air Lines flight from Las Vegas to Atlanta on July 16, 2021. That passenger was handed a $77,272 fine for being pretty creepy to the passenger sitting next to her, reportedly hugging and kissing them. The FAA report goes on to say she walked to the front of the plane to try and exit mid-flight. She refused to return to her seat, and bit another passenger multiple times before she was finally restrained by crew members.
The two passengers have 30 days to respond to the FAA’s letter.
The FAA adopted stricter policies against misbehaving passengers earlier this year after recording a series of incidents of violent passengers, or ones who refused to comply with the airline’s mask mandate.
Rather than letting passengers go off with a warning, the agency announced that it would start pursuing legal action against any passenger who assaults, threatens, intimidates, or interferes with airline crew members. The FAA claims that its recent policy has reduced unruly behavior on planes by nearly 60 percent, according to the statement.
It’s not clear whether the two passengers onboard those flights were not aware of the financial risks that now come with biting people on a plane, or if they just decided to do it anyway.