FAA: 75% of Unruly Passenger Incidents are Flyers Refusing to Wear Masks

July 7, 2021


The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) says that 75% of on-flight incidents regarding unruly passengers this year are directly attributed to flyers refusing to wear masks.

The most 'common' situation starts with people who refuse to wear their masks and escalating from there into shouting matches or physical violence as seen in the agency’s report released Tuesday morning.

FAA Issued 'Zero Tolerance Policy' For Unruly Passengers, But...

The FAA issued a "zero tolerance" policy in response to the huge surge of unruly passengers that have been reported this year and with hefty fines aimed at curbing these incidents

The obvious goal was not only put an end or reduce instances of disorderly conduct but also help ensure passenger safety and reduced flight disruptions and diversions.

It hasn't seemed to help... 

It’s out of control,” said Paul Hartshorn, spokesman for the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, which represents American Airlines’ more than 20,000 cabin crew members. “It’s really coming to the point where we have to defend ourselves.”

The FAA Has Handed Out Over $680,000 in Fines This Year Alone

The FAA is showing they're serious by handing out fines totaling $682,000 this year and identifying potential violations in 540 cases. So far the FAA has initiated an enforcement action for 83 of those identified cases.

The punishments for violating the law can range from a warning letter up to civil penalties of $27,500 per violation or even criminal prosecution with jail time.

The agency released details of eight cases in which unruly travelers were fined between $7,500 and $21,500 over disputes that stemmed from their refusal to wear masks. 

Health Officials Highlight the Importance of Wearing Masks on Flights...

Health officials have stressed that while airplane travel may seem safe in terms of transmitting the virus from person-to-person during flight time (due largely though not entirely dependent on passenger compliance), it would be wise for all passengers to follow safety guidelines including wearing face masks aboard flights:

“Although we’ve seen instances of transmission on airplanes overall, it’s a safe mode of travel even from a Covid perspective,” Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organization’s Health Emergencies Program, said at a briefing Monday. “The problem is what happens when you arrive at your destination, what you’re exposed to and what you bring home.”

American Bahamas Flight Was Postponed on Monday When High School Students Refused to Wear Masks

Just this week, an American Airlines flight scheduled for Monday from Charlotte, North Carolina, to the Bahamas was delayed until Tuesday morning due to a group of high school students refusing to wear protective masks. 

The student group was “yelling,” “cursing” and “being very obnoxious,” passenger Malik Banks told WSOC.

American Airlines confirmed to Forbes in a statement the group “became disruptive to other customers and refused to follow crew member instructions while onboard,” and they were asked to leave the airplane after crew members reminded the group of the mask mandate “several times.”

“All they had to do was follow the rules, put the mask on, sit there,” passenger Christina Randolph told WSOC about the disruptive passengers. “No smart-mouth comments. And they couldn’t do it.”

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