Fines Against 'Unruly' Passengers on Flights Surpass $1M So Far in 2021, FAA Reports

Among the new report of allegations are a man who put his head up a flight attendant's skirt and a woman who threw corn nuts at fellow passengers

flight attendant
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With the latest report of "unruly" airline passengers, total fines so far this year have topped $1 million.

On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Aviation Administration brought forth an additional 34 civil penalties against airline passengers for "alleged unruly behavior" on flights, adding $531,545 in fines to the running total for 2021.

The FAA said that since Jan. 1 of this year, it has "received approximately 3,889 reports of unruly behavior by passengers, including about 2,867 reports of passengers refusing to comply with the federal face mask mandate."

Though the identities of the allegedly unruly passengers were not disclosed, the FAA did explain the situations relating to the 34 new cases, including a $45,000 fine against a man aboard a JetBlue flight from New York City to Orlando in May who they say was "throwing objects" at fellow passengers, refusing to get off the aisle floors and "grabbing a flight attendant by the ankles and putting his head up her skirt."

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That flight was forced to make an emergency landing in Richmond, Virginia, at the time.

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Other claims — spanning passengers on flights from most major airlines — included some who made death threats, assaulting or interfering with crew members, refusing to wear a mask amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, vaping mid-flight, shouting obscenities, and/or drinking alcohol not provided by the airline.

One man, since hit with a $10,000 fine, was on an Alaska Airlines flight in February when he allegedly "acted as though his hand was a gun and made a 'pew, pew' noise as if he was shooting a fellow passenger." He also "repeatedly pushed the call light button during a PA announcement by the captain and, when the flight attendant responded, he gestured at the PA system and responded in nonsensical babble."

A $25,500 fine is also levied against a woman from a March Frontier Airlines trip who, among other allegations, locked herself in the bathroom for 30 minutes and later was caught "throwing corn nuts at passengers and shoving both her middle fingers in the flight attendant's face when they instructed her to stop throwing the nuts."

In February, a man on an Allegiant Air flight was "disruptively arguing with his wife" and also "arguing with flight attendants who told his son to stop vaping." While being escorted off the plane, he yelled at the flight attendant, 'Imagine all of you in body bags,' the FAA said. He was fined $9,000.

Many of the complaints involved passengers adamant about not wearing masks while traveling, despite the U.S. federal transportation mask mandate. The rule, which was set to expire soon on Sept. 13, has now been extended until Jan. 18, 2022.

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