FAA Chief Alarmed Over Spike In Incidents With Unruly Passengers


Every week it seems like there is another news story about unruly passengers being removed from airplanes. The number of incidents has risen over the past year as airlines have been tasked with enforcing mask mandates put in place due to the coronavirus pandemic.

That concerns Federal Aviation Administration Administrator Steve Dickson.

"We have seen an alarming increase in the rate over the last few months, and it's something that we need to get under control," Dickson told ABC News. "This is something that we should all be concerned about."

His comments came after the FAA announced it had proposed nearly $100,000 in fines against four airline passengers. One passenger on a Delta Air Lines flight from Honolulu, Hawaii, to Seattle, Washington, received a $52,500 fine for trying to open the cockpit door. It was the largest fine the agency has ever handed out. In total, the agency has proposed $350,000 in fines to passengers in 2021.

People who are fined have 30 days to respond and are given three options. They can pay the fine outright, contest the findings that led to the fine, or tell the agency they cannot afford to pay.

Overall, the agency has received more than 1,300 complaints from airlines in 2021. Of those complaints, the FAA found 350 violations. The Transportation Security Administration said that it has received about 2,000 complaints from airlines for passengers refusing to wear a face mask.

"In a typical year, the agency will end up taking this type of enforcement action in about 100 to 160 enforcement cases, so it's nothing new," Dickson said. "What really is new is the volume that we're seeing right now."

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