Air Rage not diminishing after FAA civil penalties
FAA calls the airlines to find fixes- week to answer
Good list of things to do NOW!!!
As explained in the below article, the Biden Administration called the airlines in to insist that these private entities find deterrents for the onboard incidents. The writer does not accept the premise of the FAA’s meeting- that the problem lays (solely inferred?) within the control of the airlines.
The retort—the government has done only SOME of what it could to let disruptive passengers know that there are consequences to their unruly behavior. This critique has also been made by Senate Democrats Dick Durbin and Maria Cantwell. All would like the US Department of Justice to take criminal actions against the assailants.Not surprisingly, well before this brow-beating, a trade association asked for help.
Passenger confrontations during flight have befuddled the regulators and the regulated for more than 7 years:
· Disruptive Behavior On Board Aircraft Has Severe Consequences AUGUST 23, 2018
· Zero-Tolerance MUST Continue To Protect The Flight Attendants MARCH 18, 2021
The point is there has been a lot of discussion about the problems and possible solutions. What is hard to comprehend why more hasn’t been taken off of the “to do” list and into the action mode? A possible set of items that may make sense for US Government and/or the private sector to initiate, soon:
- Civil penalties have been assessed in record dollar amounts and the rate of incidents has not been affected.
- The Department of Justice has the criminal powers to prosecute these miscreants. The US Attorneys, for years, have asserted that they have charges which merit a higher priority—primarily drugs. The Attorney General could create a task force to aggressively seek misdemeanors and felonies.
- The increasing volume of these crimes is known; the reason why the passengers need to resort to physical incidents is not known,
- The airlines and the cabin crews have a tool which should identify why and when the violence occurs. If functioning properly, SMS should have a large sample of these attacks. Using that data, more specifics can be identified. For example, some airlines stopped serving alcohol during flights—SMS should have (might have) quantified that threat.
- The FAA requested that airports take steps to discourage the bars in the terminals from allowing travellers to imbibe heavily while waiting for their flights. It is too early to determine its efficacy.
- The key point of interdiction is the boarding area. It is a job task of the Customer Service Agents to cull out those who have been overserved. Unfortunately, most airlines place a heavy work load on the CSAs; so, their time to find the drunk is limited.
- The airports employ law enforcement officers, which are trained in dealing with issues like this. Their apparent authority may cause the problem cases to behave. To relieve some of the tension, airlines could offer to support for the identified passengers on alternate flights when sobriety is no longer an issue.
- Much to their credit, the FAA sponsored a series of public service announcement reminding future passengers of their obligation to behave on the flights. The time between the PSA message and the prohibited behavior is sufficiently distant that the memory likely lost the desired deterrence.
- The messages by both the customer service agents and the lead flight attendant rarely get the attention that they merit, but perhaps including a No Disruptions message might help.
- Give each boarding adult passenger a card or post a large sign near the boarding line 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.
And so many more common sense preventative actions.
With unruly passenger reports continuing to climb at an alarming rate, the Federal Aviation Administration wants airlines to do more to stop the problem. The agency is giving carriers one week to say how they plan on curbing passenger incidents before they become serious issues.
Once again, the Federal Aviation Administration is asking another stakeholder to help curb unruly passenger problems. Reuters reports the agency met with airline trade groups to brainstorm ideas and giving carriers one week to come up with solutions.
TOP AVIATION AGENCY SAYS “ADDITIONAL ACTION” BY AIRLINES IS NECESSARY
The meeting with FAA officials was attended by Airlines for America and other consortiums in the industry. During the meeting, the agency put more responsibility on carriers to stop passenger outbursts aboard aircraft.
“[The stakeholders discussed] ways the industry can work together to reduce the number of unruly passenger incidents,” a spokesperson for the FAA told Reuters. “[The FAA] believes additional action by the airlines and all aviation stakeholders is necessary to stop the unsafe behavior.”
In 2021 alone, unruly passenger complaint investigations have increased by 254 percent compared to the previous record set in 2005, and 540 percent compared to 2019. Despite receiving over 4,300 unruly passenger reports, the FAA has only formally investigated 789 of them, leading to over 162 enforcement cases – for a enforcement rate of roughly 20 percent – and over $1 million in combined fines.
Even though the FAA is asking other aviation stakeholders for help, both lawmakers and airlines have asked for the government to do more. In June 2021, Reuters notes Airlines for America wrote a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice asking for criminal prosecutions against poorly behaved passengers. On September 20, Senate Democrats Dick Durbin and Maria Cantwell also wrote attorney general Merrick Garland asking for prosecutions
At the beginning of 2021, the FAA said unruly incidents could be referred to the Justice Department for criminal penalties. So far, civil fines have been the primary avenue for enforcement, and it is unclear how many unruly flyers have been referred for prosecution.
MEETING MARKS SECOND TIME FAA PASSES THE BUCK
The stakeholder meeting is the second time the FAA has passed responsibility for unruly flyers to other partners. In August 2021, the agency asked airports to be part of the solution by not overserving passengers.
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