Thanks, Capitol protesters. The feds say they will now crack down on bad behavior on airplanes.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is cracking down on “unruly airline passengers.” The agency said it has seen a “disturbing increase” of airline passengers disrupting flights “with threatening or violent behavior.”
The agency has usually addressed unruly-passenger incidents using various methods ranging from warnings and counseling to civil penalties, but officials say they will no longer handle cases with warnings or counseling.
FAA Administrator Steve Dickson has signed an order directing a stricter legal enforcement policy against unruly airline passengers. The new policy is in effect through March 30, officials said.
“Flying is the safest mode of transportation and I signed this order to keep it that way,” Dickson said in a news release.
Officials said these incidents include passengers’ refusal to wear masks and presumably related to protests at the U.S. Capitol.
Passengers who interfere with, assault, or threaten to assault aircraft crewmembers or anyone on an aircraft will face severe penalties, including fines of up to $35,000 and imprisonment, officials said. This behavior can distract, disrupt and threaten crewmembers’ safety functions, the feds said in a news release.
The FAA has initiated more than 1,300 enforcement actions against unruly passengers during the past 10 years, including recent cases where passengers allegedly interfered with and assaulting flight attendants who instructed them to wear masks.
While the FAA does not have regulatory authority over aviation security or no-fly lists, the agency works with federal law enforcement and national security partners on reported security threats they say could impact aviation safety.