Passenger behavior has deteriorated over time, especially in the last year
Administrator Dickson declared a ZERO TOLERANCE policy
Problem persists after substantial financial sanction and major warning campaign
Need (?) to publish names of violators with goal of an ALL CARRIER BAN
(CNN) — Authorities have received more than 3,000 reports of unruly airplane passengers this year, and the majority of those involve face mask rules, the Federal Aviation Administration told CNN on Monday.
The sharp spike in misbehaving and even violent passengers includes 2,300 reports that passengers refused to comply with the federal requirement to wear face masks on airplanes. The mandate also applies to other modes of public transportation such as buses…
The FAA said it has identified potential violations of federal rules so far in 465 of the 3,000 cases reported and has begun enforcement action in 57 cases. In a normal year, it has taken action in as many as 150 cases of passengers violating FAA rules.
FAA Administrator Steve Dickson in January launched a zero-tolerance policy against passenger misbehavior after the agency observed a dramatic increase in reports. Officials began tracking the number of reported instances of unruly passengers — something they never did before.
Dickson told CNN in an interview last month he is “concerned” about the increase in unruly passengers and the safety risk the problem poses to flights… “That’s what this zero-tolerance policy is all about — to make sure that we get this situation under control.”The agency has publicly released details of 23 incidents, and announced proposed fines totaling more than $400,000.
The largest single fine was proposed in May as $52,500 against a passenger who the agency said,…
Sara Nelson of the Association of Flight Attendants labor union said Sunday on CNN that the situation is “out of control.”
“We are hearing from flight attendants who are saying I’m concerned about going to work now,” she said. “This is so pervasive in our workplace that I’m concerned about going to work — I’m actually afraid to go to work.”
What the FAA has done since Administrator Dickson announced a ZERO TOLERANCE policy:
January 13, 2021
WASHINGTON – FAA Administrator Steve Dickson today signed an order (PDF) directing a stricter legal enforcement policy against unruly airline passengers in the wake of recent, troubling incidents…
Historically, the agency has addressed unruly-passenger incidents using a variety of methods ranging from warnings and counseling to civil penalties. Effective immediately, however, the FAA will not address these cases with warnings or counseling. The agency will pursue legal enforcement action against any passenger who assaults, threatens, intimidates, or interferes with airline crew members. This policy will be in effect through March 30, 2021.
Passengers who interfere with, physically assault, or threaten to physically assault aircraft crew or anyone else on an aircraft face stiff penalties, including fines of up to $35,000 and imprisonment. This dangerous behavior can distract, disrupt, and threaten crewmembers’ safety functions.
The FAA has initiated more than 1,300 enforcement actions against unruly passengers during the past 10 years, including recent cases for allegedly interfering with and assaulting flight attendants who instructed them to wear masks….
March 16, 2021
The FAA is extending its zero-tolerance policy for unruly passengers
I have decided to extend the FAA’s unruly-passenger zero-tolerance policy as we continue to do everything we can to confront the pandemic. The policy directs our safety inspectors and attorneys to take strong enforcement action against any passenger who disrupts or threatens the safety of a flight, with penalties ranging from fines to jail time. The number of cases we’re seeing is still far too high, and it tells us urgent action continues to be required.
FAA issued ZOOM briefing on ZERO TOLERANCE
FAA issued a series of some of the highest civil penalties ever issued against a passenger
May 17, 2021
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today proposed civil penalties ranging from $9,000 to $52,500 against four airline passengers for allegedly interfering with and, in one case, assaulting flight attendants who instructed them to obey cabin crew instructions and various federal regulations.
May 24, 2021
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has proposed civil penalties ranging from $9,000 to $15,000 against five airline passengers for allegedly interfering with and, in two cases, assaulting flight attendants who instructed them to obey cabin crew instructions and various federal regulations.
The enforcement actions announced today are part of the FAA’s zero-tolerance policy for unruly and dangerous behavior by passengers. Since Jan. 1, 2021, the FAA has received approximately 2,500 reports of unruly behavior by passengers, including about 1,900 reports of passengers refusing to comply with the federal facemask mandate.
June 14, 2021
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) proposes civil penalties ranging from $7,500 to $15,500 against four airline passengers for allegedly interfering with flight attendants who instructed them to obey cabin crew instructions and various federal regulations.
- The enforcement actions announced today are part of the FAA’s zero-tolerance policy for unruly and dangerous behavior by passengers. Since Jan. 1, 2021, the FAA has received approximately 3,000 reports of unruly behavior by passengers, including about 2,300 reports of passengers refusing to comply with the federal facemask mandate.
The press has spread the message of ZERO TOLERANCE through many, many reports through multiple media. The airlines have also heavily publicized their strict policies against disruptive passenger behavior. [The links are not exhaustive examples of the volume of press and airline efforts. See footnote for more examples]
STILL THE BEHAVIOR PERSISTS:
The deterrent effect of these substantial civil penalties assessed does not appear to be substantial. There have been some alternative approaches suggested.
An SMS review of past such incidents may illustrate patterns, like city pairs with a high percentage of such behavior, the involvement of alcohol (at least five airlines have terminated liquor service to eliminate this as a possible predicate for disruptions), delays, bad weather, etc.). Based on these analyses, there may be sensible remedial actions.
A blog, Shining Sea, posted a thoughtful, insightful essay on this subject. The author proposed a list of useful measures:
Those steps are all good, but I believe more is required. A number of possibilities come to mind.
- “Give each boarding adult passenger a card that states unequivocally the mask and other pandemic-related rules, that these rules are requirements of federal law and/or airline policy and not subject to discussion or debate and will be enforced strictly throughout the flight. Failure to comply will result in arrest at the next stop.
- Anyone physically attacking a flight attendant will be sued on behalf of the attendant by the employing airline. Not may but will. For serious actual and punitive damages. Count on it.
- Any person physically attacking a flight attendant will be, not may be, will be banned for life from flying on that airline.
- The federal government should add a new policy that if a passenger is found guilty and/or liable for assaulting a flight attendant or other crew, other airlines will be notified of the identity of that passenger, so they can take whatever action they want to take in the circumstances. Such passengers are clearly unsafe for those around them, so safety considerations warrant such disclosures.
In short, adults will be expected to act like adults. If you can’t comply, don’t fly. If you do fly and you don’t comply, you will, not may, face severe consequences, guaranteed.”
The flight attendants unions, the obvious best source of information about these fracases, have some excellent policies to stop the passengers (summary also from the Shining Sea post):
“The union letter asked for three steps:
- Better inform passengers that misbehaving could land them on Southwest’s restricted travelers list and result in potential fines, criminal charges and possible imprisonment: “The flying public needs to understand that egregious behavior will result in being banned from flying with Southwest Airlines.”
- Be consistent in policies: “No passenger should be removed from one flight only to be permitted to board the very next Southwest Airlines flight after a noncompliance incident. We ask that you take a strong stance to ensure that unruly passengers are not welcome to travel with us. Period. Full stop.”
- Demand the U.S. government increase the number of federal air marshals on flights and request that they “get involved and take action” when crew members are threatened.
. (Alternate source for these steps)
A letter sent to Secretary Buttigieg by APFA included some of the same proposals –
Perhaps the most effective means of stopping such disturbances is the publishing of a list of every passenger who has been found to have violated the ZERO TOLERANCE rule. The FAA receives such reports under existing processes. It appears to be within its authority to publish such information. Once public, each airline may add the offender to its NO FLY list. Common carriers have the right to refuse transport to an individual who poses a threat, A warning card to each passenger would be an excellent real time reminder of the consequences of a confrontation.
-  Mask Fights Causing Spike in “Air Rage,”NBC TODAY Show
- Violence in the Skies, Warning for Unruly Passengers, CNBC Squawk Box
- Unruly Passengers on Flights, Black News Channel
- Don’t be a jerk on a flight; there are no more second chances this summer, The Points Guy
- Millions Expected to Fly This Weekend in Pandemic Record, CNN
- Unfriendly skies: 2,500 unruly U.S. airline passengers reported in 2021, Reuters
- Mask fights and BYOB breaches: FAA proposes $64,500 in fines against five unruly airline passengers, USA Today
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