The Federal Aviation Administration is cracking down on rowdy passengers, announcing $124,500 in proposed fines on Tuesday against eight passengers who allegedly refused to wear a mask, drank their own booze on planes, or assaulted flight attendants.
That brings the total to $563,800 in fines that the FAA has doled out this year against dozens of passengers. The agency has received 3,100 reports of unruly behavior in 2021, 2,350 of which were related to passengers refusing to wear face masks.
One of the fines announced Tuesday was for a Southwest Airlines passenger who repeatedly refused to wear a face mask. A customer service supervisor eventually tried to escort him off the plane and the passenger hit him in the jaw.
Another passenger threw a tantrum because his flight from Arizona to Mexico was delayed or canceled due to bad weather. He started hitting the ceiling of the plane and eventually hit a neighboring passenger in the shoulder. Police had to escort him off the aircraft.
The fines are a result of the FAA's zero-tolerance policy that was announced at the beginning of the year due to a "disturbing increase in incidents where airline passengers have disrupted flights with threatening or violent behavior."
On May 14, the federal government issued a reminder that Americans are still required to wear a face mask on planes and any other form of public transportation, even if they're vaccinated.
The FAA has the authority to issue civil fines, but it can't prosecute unruly passengers criminally.
Airlines 4 America, a coalition of U.S. airlines, sent a letter to FAA administrator Steve Dickson on Monday requesting more collaboration with the Justice Department on prosecuting passengers who get out of hand.
"We respectfully request that the FAA refer abhorrent cases to the Department of Justice (DOJ) so that the federal government may fully, swiftly and publicly prosecute criminal acts to the fullest extent of the law and deter this dangerous and concerning behavior," the letter reads. "As the FAA is aware, the recent negative and unsafe behavior is alarming."