FAA proposes combined $100,000 in fines for 4 unruly plane passengers, including man who tried to enter the cockpit

Airplane passengers interior
A flight attendant. Adnan Abidi/Reuters
  • The FAA announced four civil penalties against passengers totaling more than $100,000 on Monday.
  • The proposed fines stem from incidents of unruly and/or dangerous passenger behavior in recent months.
  • The fines range in amount from $9,000 to $52,500.
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Misbehaving in the air may cost delinquents a hefty price as the Federal Aviation Administration cracks down on misconduct amid a surge of troubling episodes in recent months.

The US Department of Transportation agency announced Monday a slew of proposed fines totaling more than $100,000 against four airline passengers accused of interfering with and in one case, assaulting flight attendants.

The largest single civil penalty checks in at $52,500 for a man who had to be physically restrained, according to the FAA.

The most extreme incident happened on a Delta flight from Honolulu, Hawaii, to Seattle, Washington, in December, when a passenger tried to open the cockpit door after repeatedly refusing to comply with crew members’ instructions, the FAA said. The man then physically assaulted a flight attendant, hitting him in the face and pushing him to the floor, before charging at him and threatening him as he tried to restrain the passenger. According to the FAA, flight attendants with the help of another passenger were able to put the man in plastic handcuffs, but the passenger eventually freed himself from the restraints and hit the flight attendant a second time. When the plane landed, police officers took the man, who now faces a $52,500 fine, into custody.

The FAA has proposed a fine of $27,000 against a passenger who made a bomb threat on a Southwest flight from Phoenix, Arizona, to Chicago, Illinois, on January 1. According to the agency, the man began yelling and banging his hands on the seat in front of him shortly after boarding the plane. During the flight, he yelled numerous threats, including that he was going to kill someone, that he had a bomb, and that he was going to blow the plane up. Flight attendants had to relocate multiple passengers nearby and the captain eventually diverted the flight to Oklahoma City, where police took the man into custody.

A JetBlue passenger faces an $18,500 alcohol-related fine stemming from a February flight from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to Las Vegas, Nevada. According to the FAA, a flight attendant noticed the man holding several mini alcohol bottles that the flight crew had not served to him. The attendant told him “multiple times” that he could not drink personal alcohol, but he continued to do so. The man is also accused of failing to comply with the airline’s required mask mandate, wearing it improperly several times and then removing it altogether.

The fourth fine announced Monday also derives from a mask-related incident when a female passenger on an Allegiant Air flight from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to Knoxville, Tennessee, refused to put her mask on properly after being instructed to by flight attendants multiple times. Later in the flight, the FAA said she sat in an exit row while waiting to use the restroom. When a flight attendant told her she couldn’t sit in the exit row, she screamed in the flight attendant’s face while not wearing her mask. When another crew member attempted to give the passenger a disturbance form, the woman began to curse and told the attendants they “couldn’t do anything.”

All four incidents break federal law, which prohibits anyone from interfering with airplane crews or threatening to assault anyone on a flight. The agency said passengers are thus subject to civil penalties because dangerous behavior can disrupt or distract the crew from vital safety duties.

The FAA does not identify individuals who face fines and according to the agency, the passengers have 30 days after notice of the fines to respond to the agency.

Earlier this year, the FAA tightened restrictions on unruly passengers who cause disturbances and refuse to follow crew members’ instructions on commercial flights. The January special order followed multiple incidents linked to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. The agency has extended the order indefinitely.