FAA wants to fine JetBlue passenger more than $14,500 for alleged mask refusal, alcohol violation

Mar 12, 2021

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

In recent months, the FAA promised stricter enforcement and tougher penalties for passengers who refuse to wear masks, harass other passengers, or otherwise disrupt flights.

On Friday, the agency followed up on its threats.

The FAA issued a proposed fine of $14,500 against a passenger who is alleged to have disrupted a JetBlue flight just before Christmas.

According to the FAA, the passenger “crowded the traveler sitting next to him” on the Dec. 23 flight from New York JFK to the Dominican Republic, while shouting and continuously pulling his mask down even though flight attendants instructed him to wear it several times.

You can view the FAA’s enforcement letter to the passenger at the bottom of this article.

JetBlue, like most U.S. airlines, requires all passengers traveling on board to wear face masks due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The federal government began to require masks to be worn on planes and other forms of mass transit in January.

Want more airline-specific news? Sign up for TPG’s free new biweekly Aviation newsletter!

The passenger was also allegedly drinking alcohol he brought on board with him — which is illegal under FAA regulations — and ignored the flight attendants when they told him to stop.

Eventually, the passenger was issued a formal “Notice to Cease Illegal and Objectionable Behavior,” and the captain decided to return to JFK to have the unruly person removed from the flight.

Although mask-use was not federally mandated at the time, interfering with or disregarding instructions from a flight crew member is prohibited.

Airlines and flight attendants have called for the federal government to step up enforcement of mask requirements several times — they doubled-down on calls after a number of disorderly incidents on flights in the lead-up to and aftermath of the attack on the U.S. Capitol Building on Jan. 6.

“We’re not screwing around here — you just can’t with safety and health,” Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, told TPG. Nelson has repeatedly called for backup from the federal government in dealing with mask violators.

More: CDC now recommends double-masking: TPG’s 9 favorite face masks and where to buy them

“Kudos to the FAA for backing up words with action,” she added. “This backs up the crew and relays to all other passengers that we’re serious about keeping them safe. Sit back, relax, and wear your mask!” The AFA represents flight attendants at 17 airlines, JetBlue cabin crew are represented by a different union.

The passenger has 30 days to respond to the FAA enforcement letter, which levies a civil penalty. The response can involve an appeal, but there is no guarantee of the fine being changed. It was not immediately clear whether the passenger also faced criminal charges, although the plane was met by Port Authority Police when it landed.

Redacted 2021EA0210 by David Slotnick


Featured photo by Craig Warga/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.