Woman Hit with Largest FAA Fine Ever After Allegedly Threatening, Assaulting Flight Attendant

A passenger aboard a July 2021 American Airlines flight from Dallas-Fort Worth to Charlotte was fined $81,950 by the Federal Aviation Administration

American Airlines
American Airlines plane. Photo: Tom Pennington/Getty

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has given out their largest fine in history to a woman they allege pushed a flight attendant and attempted to open a cabin door on a July 2021 trip from Dallas-Fort Worth to Charlotte.

The woman — whose name has not been released — was $81,950 by the organization, they said in a news release on Friday.

According to the FAA, she was flying on American Airlines when she alleged fell into the aisle. When offered help, "the passenger threatened to hurt the flight attendant."

"The passenger then pushed the flight attendant aside and tried to open the cabin door," the FAA alleged. "Two flight attendants tried to restrain the passenger, but she repeatedly hit one of the flight attendants on the head."

Flex cuffs were used to restrain the woman, per the FAA. While restrained, she allegedly "spit at, head-butted, bit and tried to kick the crew and other passengers."

flight attendant

The woman was captured in a video posted to TikTok, which has since been removed, according to The Charlotte Observer. In the clip, the woman appeared to be in distress and was restrained in her seat while other passengers departed the plane in Charlotte, the Observer reports.

After landing in Charlotte, the woman was taken to a hospital and evaluated, the Observer reports. According to the FAA, law enforcement was also present when the plane landed in Charlotte.

Passengers fined by the FAA have 30 days after receiving the agency's letter to respond, according to the FAA. The agency does not identify passengers who have received civil penalties.

U.S. Transportation Sec. Pete Buttigieg announced the fines while appearing on The View Friday, where he said, "If you are on an airplane, don't be a jerk and don't endanger the flight crews and fellow passengers. If you do, you will be fined by the FAA."

The FAA also said in their release on Friday that they had issued a $77,272 to another female passenger who — while flying on July 16, 2021 on a Delta Air Lines flight from Las Vegas to Atlanta — "attempted to hug and kiss the passenger seated next to her; walked to the front of the aircraft to try to exit during flight; refused to return to her seat; and bit another passenger multiple times."

Like the passenger before, the crew had to physically restrain her.

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The FAA's Zero Tolerance policy against unruly passenger behavior and its public awareness campaign has decreased the rate of unruly incidents by nearly 60 percent, they said in a release.

Still, social media has helped in the spread of the unruly passenger incidents that do occur on airlines.

In August 2021, flight attendants began training in self defense amongst the rise in unruly passengers. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) began training flight attendants in self-defense, resuming a half-day course created in 2004 after previously halting the program.

Also in August 2021, the FAA reported that fines against unruly passengers had topped $1 million in total that year. Between Jan. 1, 2021 and August 2021, the FAA said it had "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."

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