Refusing to wear a mask or assaulting airline crew members is going set you back big time financially, Federal Aviation Administration officials told CNN on Wednesday.
According to the network's report, FAA officials said two recent cases of unmasked and "unruly" passengers will see fines levied of $16,500 and $32,750, respectively.
The federal officials said one of the passengers, a man, is accused of hitting a Southwest Airlines flight attendant with his bags, and the other, a woman, is accused of grabbing and hitting two JetBlue Airways attendants, the report said.
The woman allegedly grabbed one attendant's arm, hit the arm of another attendant, and threw alcohol bottles at them while refusing to wear a mask, the report said.
The fines were disclosed from the 1,300 flight crew reports of passengers acting badly in just the past 3 months.
Investigators identified 260 of those with potential violations where civil fines could be issued.
A spokesman for the agency told CNN it never used to tally them because they were so rare, but the number of incidents is climbing to several daily.
The increases come even though airline travel is only at 40% of its pre-pandemic level, the report said.
The monetary crackdown is part of a zero-tolerance policy" announced by FAA Administrator Steve Dickson in January.
"I have decided to extend the FAA's unruly-passenger, zero-tolerance policy as we continue to do everything we can confront the pandemic," Dickson said, The Hill reported. "The policy directs our safety inspectors and attorneys to take strong enforcement action against any passenger who disrupts or threatens the safety of a flight, with penalties ranging from fines to jail time. The number of cases we're seeing is still far too high, and it tells us urgent action continues to be required."
Dickson signed the extension of the policy Jan. 13.
According to the agency, the FAA has used a variety of ways to deal with problem passengers in the past including warnings, counseling, and financial penalties.
"Passengers who interfere with, physically assault, or threaten to physically assault aircraft crew or anyone else on an aircraft, [will] face stiff penalties, including fines of up to $35,000 and imprisonment," the press release from January said. "This dangerous behavior can distract, disrupt, and threaten crewmembers' safety functions."
While the agency has no authority over regulating security or "no-fly lists," it works closely with federal law enforcement and national security on any security threats that could impact safety, the release said.
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