FAA Administrator Steps Up Enforcement on Unruly Passengers

FAA Administrator Steps Up Enforcement on Unruly Passengers

January 9, 2021 — Airlines and law enforcement agencies have bolstered security at Washington-area airports this week after reports of “mob behavior” on flights in and out of the region surrounding Wednesday’s siege on the U.S. Capitol. Every airline flying out of the region over the last several days has experienced incidents onboard. Flight Attendants House Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) on Thursday urged TSA and the FBI to add “violent perpetrators” who participated in the Capitol riots to the federal No-Fly List.

This morning, FAA Administrator Steve Dickson released the following statement backing flight crew:

“As a former airline captain, I can attest from first-hand experience that the cabin crew’s primary responsibility is to ensure the safety of all passengers/ I expect all passengers to follow crew member instructions, which are in place for their safety and the safety of flight. The FAA monitors and tracks all commercial passenger flights in real time and reporting mechanisms are in place for crew members to identify any number of safety and security concerns that may arise in flight. This includes unruly passenger behavior, which can distract, disrupt and threaten crewmembers’ ability to conduct their safety functions. The FAA will pursue strong enforcement action against anyone who endangers the safety of flight, with penalties ranging from monetary fines to jail time.”

Keep Problems on the Ground

If someone is acting out in an airport, shouting obscenities, and harassing other passengers— they are likely identified as a flight risk and should not get on a flight at least until demonstrating otherwise. That has been the practice for years, especially since 9/11. Keep problems on the ground.

The FAA is increasing its public education on penalties for unruly passengers. Publicly warning passengers on social media multiple times since Wednesday, “Airline passengers: Unruly behavior on an airplane may violate federal law. You could face jail time and fines up to $35K. Always follow crew instructions. They are there to keep everyone safe.”

This is a new kind of threat in the air. We should work harder to keep problems on the ground. Ensure strict mask compliance before pushback. Work as one crew, communicate, and take your concerns to the flight deck and supervisors. Carry this communication with you as backup. You have the right and duty to assert concern for your safety and that of the passengers in our care. 

Our union continues to work with airlines, other unions, the FAA, and the TSA to ensure the safety of crews and security of flights. If anyone is in need of AFA EAP assistance, please call 800-424-2406.

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