Unruly airline passenger incidents way up, FAA says settle down or face fines and prosecution

Local News

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — If you plan on flying over the holidays, the Federal Aviation Administration has a message, i.e. that disruptive passenger incidents have skyrocketed in 2021.

The FAA says these incidents are a danger to all passengers on board.

“The unacceptable disruptive behavior that we’re seeing is a serious safety threat to flights,” said FAA Administrator Steve Dickson recently. “Let this serve both as a warning and as a deterrent. If you disrupt a flight you risk not just fines from the FAA but federal criminal prosecution as well.”

There have been more than 5,000 incidents reported thus far in 2021. Ken Jenkins, who is a former airline employee and now does crisis consulting, says “there was a time when if you had 50 unruly passengers in a year that was high.”

Of the more than 5,000 incidents this year, just over 3,700 were disputes over passengers being asked to wear a mask on the plane.

“It is a federal guideline just like any other that the crew instructs you to obey on board a plane,” said Jenkins. “It is a federal rule and so you don’t get to opt out once you get on the plane. So, if a flight attendant asks you to put your mask on simply put your mask back on.”

The FAA has put out public service announcements that indicate violators will face punishment.

“There’s potential jail time and potential fines, who wants that,” said Jenkins.

Jenkins also says he has advice for people who don’t want to follow the rule.

“The advice that I have is that if you’re one of those folks that are easily rattled or you’re at the end of your patience rope or your anxiety is high, don’t fly,” he says. “Just simply don’t get on the plane because there is no tolerance for unruly passengers on board a flight today.”

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