The FAA doubles down on fines —again — for bringing booze on board and messing with flight attendants

Apr 27, 2021

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When the FAA last month fined three passengers for bringing their own alcohol onboard, getting drunk, and ignoring flight attendants’ instructions, it wasn’t finished.

The agency said on Tuesday that it would fine another three passengers tens of thousands of dollars for causing scenes aboard flights in early January. Each incident involved passengers drinking alcohol that they brought onboard themselves — which is against FAA regulations.

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Two of the passengers were on a JetBlue flight from Haiti to Boston on Jan. 4, although it was not clear whether they were traveling together. Both passengers allegedly drank their own alcohol and became disruptive, yelling and waving their hands around, prompting complaints from other passengers. One of the passengers allegedly grabbed two flight attendants’ arms as they spoke to him, while the other was alleged to have made “motions to strike a flight attendant.” Both were escorted off the plane by police upon arrival.

The first passenger — the one who grabbed the flight attendants — will be fined $31,750, while the other passenger will face a $16,750 fine.

The other incident occurred on a SkyWest flight from Yuma, Arizona, to Dallas-Fort Worth. According to the FAA, that passenger brought a handful of 50 milliliter mini-bottles of alcohol onto the flight and began drinking them. He was moved to another seat after he allegedly repeatedly turned around and tried to touch the passenger behind him, but then “continued to bother passengers around him and to leave his seat.”

More: The FAA is getting serious about unruly fliers — you can be fined up to $35,000 if you misbehave

Eventually, two off-duty police officers wrestled him back into his seat, and then sat near him when he continued to try and get up, according to the FAA’s account. The captain requested a priority landing and asked police to meet the plane at the arrival gate. That passenger now faces a $14,500 fine.

The passengers have 30 days to respond to the FAA fines, which are considered a civil penalty. The response can involve an appeal, but there is no guarantee of the fine being changed.

The fines come a month after the FAA said it would continue to crack down on disruptive behavior aboard planes, extending a zero-tolerance policy it implemented in January following numerous disruptive incidents on flights surrounding the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol building.

Under the zero-tolerance policy, the FAA said it will pursue legal enforcement against anyone involved with an “unruly passenger” incident on a flight. Normally, the FAA uses discretion to choose from among several approaches, including formal warnings and counseling.

Featured image by Chalabala / Getty Images

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