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Punch a flight attendant? Lose TSA PreCheck

Dec. 21, 2021
4 min read
Punch a flight attendant? Lose TSA PreCheck
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Airline passengers who break rules, get in fights and assault flight attendants will face a new consequence, according to the TSA: loss of access to the PreCheck program.

The FAA will share names and other information about passengers who it has fined for unruly behavior with the TSA, the security agency said on Tuesday. This may remove said individuals from the trusted traveler program.

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TSA PreCheck allows eligible participants who are considered "low-risk" to undergo a less-invasive security screening process at U.S. airports. PreCheck members can typically leave laptops and liquids in carry-on bags, wear shoes and light jackets through the checkpoint and pass through a metal detector rather than a full-body scanner.

"This partnership with FAA will help ensure the safety and security of all passengers and hold those who violate federal regulations accountable for their actions," TSA Administrator David Pekoske said in a statement.

The incidence of unruly passengers on flights has surged in 2021, with 5,664 reported cases, according to the FAA, easily the highest ever reported. The FAA has not tracked the number of reports in previous years because the number was typically so small, a spokesperson said. Of those cases, 315 have seen enforcement action of the type which would lead to a referral to the TSA under the new partnership, while 1,030 investigations have been opened.

It was not immediately clear how many unruly passengers have been TSA PreCheck participants.

Related: Air rage crisis: Congress gets an earful on unruly flyer incidents aboard US flights

In 2019, just 146 investigations were initiated, while 183 were started in 2020.

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"If you act out of line, you will wait in line," FAA Administrator Steve Dickson added in the statement. "Our partnership aims to promote safe and responsible passenger behavior. One unruly incident is one too many."

Many of the onboard incidents have been in relation to the federal mask mandate, with passengers refusing crewmember instructions to wear the face coverings, while others have involved alcohol.

A meme posted to social media by the Federal Aviation Administration in 2021 in response to the surge in unruly passenger incidents. (Image courtesy of FAA/Facebook.)

While the overall number of incidents has been low — just 13 incidents per 10,000 flights at the height of the problem in mid-January to February of this year, about 85% of flight attendants in a recent survey said they had encountered disruptive passenger behavior on flights in 2021, and nearly 1 in 5 said they had either witnessed or been subject to violence.

"Clear consequences for bad actors is critical if we're going to drop the record-breaking number of disruptive passenger events," said Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants, in a tweet. "Coordination is key — almost as important as action."

Related: Reminder: You can’t drink your own booze on an airplane

Although airlines have kept track of unruly passengers on their individual flights, in some cases prohibiting them from flying with the carrier again, Nelson has called for a shared list of banned passengers.

The FAA also referred 37 cases to the Department of Justice for criminal investigation last month.

The recent fines have been highly publicized by the FAA, implemented under a zero-tolerance policy that the agency put in place in January following numerous disruptive incidents on flights surrounding the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol building.

More than $1 million in fines have been issued by the Administration.

Featured image by Photo by David Slotnick/The Points Guy
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
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    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

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    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
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Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,300+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and the Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023