The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has reported 2,600 airline passengers becoming unruly in mask-related incidents this year, according to updated numbers released Tuesday.
There have now been 3,509 unruly passenger reports, with 2,605 relating to noncompliance with the federal mask mandate that remains in place for flights and public transit, according to the agency. The agency describes “unruly” as threatening or violent behavior.
FAA Administrator Steve Dickson signed in January a zero-tolerance order putting stricter legal enforcement policy against passengers that could lead to fines and jail time.
“We’ve seen incidents related to alcohol, violence toward flight attendants, and abusive behavior in general,” Dickson said. “By law, you must follow all directions from your flight attendants.”
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) asked travelers to be calm and respectful at security checkpoints after multiple incidents, including a passenger allegedly biting two TSA officers earlier in June.
Southwest Airlines and American Airlines said they won’t serve alcoholic beverages after a flight attendant was assaulted in May, according to CNBC.
The FAA said they have 581 investigations initiated into incidents and 87 enforcement cases in 2021 so far. (RELATED: ‘We Have Lost Our Ever-Loving Minds’: Airline Draws Big Rebukes For Family Kicked Off Plane Over Child Not Wearing Mask)
“Passengers do not arrive at an airport or board a plane with the intent of becoming unruly or violent; however, what is an exciting return to travel for some may be a more difficult experience for others, which can lead to unexpected, and unacceptable, behaviors,” said TSA Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Administrator Darby LaJoye in a statement in June. “We appreciate our continued partnership and coordination with the FAA and stand together in a unified position of zero-tolerance with respect to attacks against our employees.”
Travelers were warned in February if they violate the federal transportation face mask mandate could receive between $250 to as much as $1500 in fines for repeat offenders.
A massive brawl broke out on a plane in October 2020 over the flight’s mask policies. A man wearing a face shield felt like he didn’t need to wear a mask, the flight attendants and a second man disagreed, which later broke into a fight.
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