UPDATE: This piece has been updated to reflect a statement from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Reports of unruly airplane passengers plummeted 74% after a federal judge struck down Biden’s mask mandate, according to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) data.
Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, struck down the Biden administration’s transportation mask mandate April 18. While total weekly flights remained stable throughout 2022, the number of weekly unruly passengers peaked at 6.4 in the final weeks of the mandate before plummeting to the current 1.7; there were 2.2 or fewer unruly passengers each week for the remainder of the year, according to the FAA.
There were 2,178 unruly passengers in 2022 by Nov. 1, compared to 87 by mid-December in 2019, according to FAA data. (RELATED: ‘Premature’: New York College Reverses Mask Mandate Hours After First Putting It In Place)
Caught on Camera: A fight over whether or not to wear a mask onboard a Spirit Airlines plane that had just arrived in Puerto Rico led to a woman – who police say was the aggressor – being tased by police who are considering filing charges.
— David Begnaud (@DavidBegnaud) October 27, 2020
The FAA downplayed the relationship between unruly passengers and the mask mandate in comments to the Daily Caller News Foundation, claiming that a strict unruly passenger policy implemented in Jan. 2021 had caused the decline in incidents.
“Following the rapid increase in incidents in late 2020, the FAA initiated a Zero-Tolerance Policy against unruly passengers,” an FAA spokesman told the DCNF. “This increase was happening before the transportation mask mandate was put into place. The rate began falling before the mask mandate was removed and has continued to drop thanks to the agency’s Zero-Tolerance Policy, PSAs, partnerships with the FBI & TSA and other efforts.”
Despite the probable link between the mask mandate and unruly airplane behavior, the Biden administration is still pushing to reinstate it through court battles, according to RealClear Investigations.
“It’s about increasing the power of the federal government as well as people who are not elected, and it’s not a partisan issue. They all want more power and are getting it through these emergencies,” Leslie Manookian, president of the Health Freedom Defense Fund, which filed the lawsuit against the mask mandate, told RealClear.
In 2021, 85% of unruly passenger incidents involved masks compared to 58% which involved alcohol, according to the Association of Flight Attendants union.
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