Airline passengers had better think twice before engaging in unruly behavior during travel or not wearing a mask, as federal authorities announced the single largest amount of fines since its crackdown totaling over $1 million.
As news headlines of more and more passengers having to be restrained in their seats with duct tape to control their unruly behavior, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has apparently become serious with the nationwide crackdown it began earlier this year.
On Thursday, the FAA announced a total of $531,545 in fines against 34 passengers who are accused of unruly behavior during air travel. The amount is the single largest federal fine since the crackdown was initiated, which brings the total of fines levied against such passengers in 2021 so far to over $1 million.
Prior to the present time, in a typical year, the FAA sees between 100-150 formal cases of bad behavior from passengers, NBC reported.
Since January 2021, the FAA has seen nearly 3,900 incidents. Of these, 2,867 cases involved passengers who were non-compliant with the TSA-mandated mask requirements.
The largest fine, $45,000, was levied against a passenger who allegedly threw objects at other passengers, refused to stay seated, and laid down in the aisle. The passenger is also accused of grabbing a flight attendant by the ankles and placing his head up her skirt.
The incident occurred on May 24 during a JetBlue flight from New York to Orlando. The disturbance forced the pilot to make an emergency landing in Richmond, Virginia.
The FAA is taking the federal transportation-wide mask mandate seriously. Nearly two-thirds of the fines it has levied, 22 out of the 34, involved passengers who have violated this mandate which was extended by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to remain in place through January 18, 2022
In the 34 incidents that total over a half-million dollars in fines, nine of those involved a passenger accused of touching or striking another person on the plane, including crew members, CNN reported. Eight of the 34 are accused of bringing alcohol on board the plane and drinking illegally.
In an effort to reduce airline instances of bad behavior, the FAA warned airports across the country to begin monitoring how much alcohol is being served to passengers.
Further, half of the incidents involved flights that were to or from vacation destinations in Florida.