News Flash: FAA fines unruly airline passengers


On Jan. 13, the administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced a new zero-tolerance policy that will be in effect through March 30 in order to combat unruly airline passengers. Previously, the FAA had addressed disruptive passenger cases with warnings, counseling, and civil penalties. However, as the number of passengers refusing to comply with COVID-19 safety regulations has risen, the FAA has signed an order that will pursue legal action against passengers who interfere with the airline crew members in any form through means including a fine of up to $35,000 and possibly jail time. Airlines such as JetBlue, Southwest Airlines, and Alaska Airlines have reported cases of passengers ignoring crew members’ instructions by refusing to wear masks, and fighting back—sometimes even violently. The FAA’s decision to enforce a stricter mask mandating approach against disruptive airline passengers has garnered support from airlines and flight attendants as such policies will help keep everyone onboard safe.