Two airline passengers faced a total fine of $20,000 according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The civil penalties are part of the FAA’s zero-tolerance policy against unruly passengers. A passenger has to pay $10,500 for ignoring to wear a mask. He then coughed and blew his nose during a JetBlue flight in Fort Lauderdale to Los Angeles in December last year. The second man, on the other hand, was punished with a $9,000 penalty for slamming overhead bins and shouting profanities against JetBlue’s crew. This happened on a flight from LA to Newark in March.
Unfortunately, these two cases are not that rare these days. The two cases happened just three days after the agency announce possible fines against four other airline passengers. In recent weeks, FAA’s zero-tolerance policy against unruly passengers fined more than 12 passengers. Some even have to pay over $30,000 in penalty. The passengers will have the right to dispute the fines.
FAA’s Zero-Tolerance Policy Extension
FAA’s zero-tolerance policy started in January when Capitol rioters caused trouble on different flights to and from Washington DC. With FAA’s zero-tolerance policy in place, airlines no longer need to warn unruly passengers. Airlines can go straight to enforcement while FAA can impose civil penalties. However, law enforcement will be the one to decide whether or not to file criminal charges.
The original plan was only to have the policy until March. However, since more people are traveling by air, airlines also noticed an increasing number of unruly passengers. And because of this, the agency decided to extend the zero-tolerance policy until September together with the mask requirement.
The agency already recorded 1,300 cases of disruptive passengers this year alone. That is equivalent to the number of enforcement actions in the last decade. Some airlines also had instances with their passengers that never reached FAA. US airlines have already banned 3,000 people who refused to wear a mask.
The problem is so bad that some politicians also violated the mask mandate. Alaska senator Lora Reinbold was banned by Alaska Airlines for refusing to wear a mask.
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