Flight attendant union leader on 'passenger aggression': Air travel won’t work unless everyone follows rules

The Flight Attendants Association President says rule-breaking fines can cost up to $35,000 per incident

Just as the number of travelers spikes amid the end of the coronavirus pandemic, so does the number of unruly airplane passengers. 

Travelers across various airline carriers continue to make headlines over their refusal to obey certain safety protocols, such as the mask mandate on all major airlines. On Wednesday, Flight Attendant Association President Sara Nelson joined FOX Business' 'Cavuto: Coast to Coast' to discuss the recent surge in "passenger aggression."

"Air travel just doesn't work if we're not all following the rules," Nelson asserted. "The mask policy is still in place in transportation because there are children who can't get the vaccine yet. People who are vaccinated are likely not going to end up in the hospital, but they can still carry the virus and transmit the variants."

"So in order to stop the spread and end this pandemic that has disrupted all of our lives, that mask policy in transportation is still in place," Nelson continued. "And, you know, a lot of those flight attendants enforcing those rules don't want to be wearing those masks either… They have very different views about the masks, but when they come to the airplane door, they are charged with one level of safety and they give instruction required of them to the traveling public and enforce that."


Nelson's comments come on the heels of last week's reported episodes of rule-breaking.

In one instance, a JetBlue Airlines passenger was accused of refusing to wear a mask despite being requested to do so "at least 10 times." In another, an Alaska Airlines passenger was allegedly caught smoking an e-cigarette in the airplane lavatory. The passenger also allegedly repeatedly ignored flight attendants’ instructions to wear his facemask properly and even "walked through the cabin without his facemask over his mouth and nose." 

"What we are asking is for the DOJ to actively and publicly pursue these federal penalties so that people understand what the consequences are," Nelson said. "It's also another means to be very clear about what the rules are, and why the rules are in place."

Nelson told host Neil Cavuto potential fines could be costly as up to $35,000 per incident.


"We just have to be really clear with everyone because I think a lot of times, Neil, it's that people don't know what's expected of them and then they're asked to do something — or, they've been told that this is an area of conflict, when in fact it's really just about everyone following the rules so we can travel together safely," said Nelson.

Nelson noted that, while there are mounting exceptions, most people approach the airplane door "with kindness in their hearts and a desire to have a safe, uneventful flight."

"[We just need to] encourage people to lift up the helpers. Everybody's at a stress level 10, everybody needs a little help right now. Be a helper and let's encourage people to be nice," Nelson concluded.