Press Release – FAA Proposes Civil Penalties Against Two Passengers for Allegedly Interfering with Flight Attendants

For Immediate Release

May 10, 2021

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) proposes civil penalties of $10,500 and $9,000 against two airline passengers for allegedly interfering with flight attendants who instructed them to obey cabin crew instructions and various federal regulations.

The cases are as follows:

  • $10,500 against a passenger on a Dec. 27, 2020 jetBlue Airlines flight from Ft. Lauderdale International Airport to Los Angeles International Airport. The FAA alleges the passenger repeatedly ignored, and was abusive to, flight attendants who instructed him to wear a facemask. At one point, while not wearing a mask, he coughed and blew his nose into a blanket. The passenger’s disruptive behavior diverted flight crewmembers from their duties.
  • $9,000 against a passenger on a March 16, 2021 jetBlue Airlines flight from Los Angeles International Airport to Newark Liberty International Airport. The FAA alleges the passenger acted in a disruptive manner while boarding the flight. He yelled, slammed overhead bins, and shouted profanities at the cabin crew, including threatening to harass a flight attendant during the entire flight. He also shouted profanities at the captain when the captain entered the cabin to ensure the passenger got off the plane. Law enforcement met the passenger at the boarding gate and escorted him out of the terminal.

Federal law prohibits interfering with aircraft crew or physically assaulting or threatening to physically assault aircraft crew or anyone else on an aircraft. Passengers are subject to civil penalties for such misconduct, which can threaten the safety of the flight by disrupting or distracting cabin crew from their safety duties. Additionally, federal law provides for criminal fines and imprisonment of passengers who interfere with the performance of a crewmember’s duties by assaulting or intimidating that crewmember.

The FAA is strictly enforcing a zero-tolerance policy toward passengers who cause disturbances on flights or fail to obey flight crew instructions in violation of the FAA’s regulations or engage in conduct proscribed by federal law.

The passengers have 30 days after receiving the FAA’s enforcement letter to respond to the agency. The FAA does not identify individuals against whom it proposes civil penalties.