Airlines Forced to Discipline Customers After 2,500 Reports of Unruly Customers in 2021
Of the 2,500 reports, 1,900 are based on passengers refusing to comply with the federal face mask mandate on planes amid the pandemic
Airline companies are turning to discipline in order to stop the overwhelming number of unruly customer incidents on flights.
Over the past several months, reports of bad customer behavior on airplanes have skyrocketed, resulting in policy retaliation from companies in order to hold these individuals accountable and more specifically, protect the wellbeing of their employees.
One incident this year involved an angry American Airlines passenger who allegedly attacked a flight attendant when her trash wasn't picked up. The flight attendant sustained several injuries — including a swollen hand and strained neck — but denied medical assistance, according to the complaint. The passenger, later identified as Chenasia Campbell, was taken into custody and later appeared in court on federal charges.
In a statement to PEOPLE, an American airlines spokesperson said that the passenger involved in the incident had "refused to comply with the federal face mask requirement" and "assaulted a crew member while in flight."
"Violence of any kind is not tolerated by American," the statement read. "We thank our crew members and law enforcement for their quick action, both on board and at the airport, to ensure the safety of our customers and crew members."
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Last month, American Airlines announced that it will halt all alcohol sales in its main cabin until September 13, CNN reports. The decision was first made in order to limit interactions between flight attendants and passengers due to the pandemic, however, the September date was established after the overwhelming cases of altercations involving passengers.
This follows Southwest Airlines' decision to do the same after another incident occurred where a flight attendant lost two of her teeth after allegedly being assaulted by an unruly passenger.
The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced a new zero-tolerance policy for unruly and dangerous behavior by passengers after receiving as many as 2,500 reports of unruly behavior by passengers since the beginning of 2021, including about 1,900 reports of passengers refusing to comply with the federal face mask mandate.
The FFA noted that federal law prohibits interfering with aircraft crew or physically assaulting or threatening to physically assault aircraft crew or anyone else on board, also highlighting the hefty fines and other repercussions that come with the act.
After a year filled with nationwide lockdowns, many are naming built-up emotions as the cause of customer behaviors, and it's causing companies to push back, and risk losing sales in the process. Forbes reports that employees are experiencing "enforcement fatigue" after being put in the position of policing COVID restrictions for the past year with backlash from customers, leading to strain on their ability to work.