For Immediate Release
March 17, 2021
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) proposes civil penalties of $20,000 and $12,250 against two passengers for allegedly interfering with, and in one case assaulting, flight attendants who instructed them to wear facemasks and obey various federal regulations.
The cases are as follows:
- $20,000 against a passenger on a Dec. 27, 2020, jetBlue Airlines flight from Boston to Puerto Rico. The FAA alleges the passenger failed multiple times to comply with flight attendants’ instructions to wear her facemask and remain seated with her seatbelt fastened. The passenger shoved a flight attendant multiple times in her chest/shoulder area, shouted obscenities at the flight attendant, and threatened to have her fired. As a result of the passenger’s behavior, the captain diverted the flight back to Boston.
- $12,250 against a passenger on a Dec. 31, 2020, jetBlue Airlines flight from New York to the Dominican Republic. The FAA alleges the passenger failed multiple times to comply with flight attendants’ instructions to wear his facemask, stop drinking from his personal bottle of alcohol, which is prohibited by FAA regulations, and hand over the bottle. After flight attendants issued the passenger a “Notice to Cease Objectionable Behavior” card, he shouted profanities at them, slammed overhead bins and became more and more uncooperative and agitated. During the landing phase of flight, including when the plane was taxiing to the gate, the passenger stood up while the “fasten seatbelt” sign was illuminated, threw his bottle of alcohol behind a seat, and went to the lavatory. As a result of the passenger’s behavior, the flight crew requested that law enforcement meet the aircraft at the gate.
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.