The pandemic era travel rage incidents are on the rise according to travel experts – an unfortunate trend due to unruly passengers who engage in conflict with flight crew.
This week the US Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) proposed civil penalties ranging from $9,000 to $22,000 against airline passengers for allegedly disobeying flight attendants cabin crew instructions.
FAA reported cases of passengers assaulting flight crew, drinking alcohol brought aboard the plane, and refusing to wear face masks.
According to FAA, since January 1, 2021, the agency has received approximately 3,100 reports of unruly behavior by passengers, including about 2,350 reports of passengers refusing to comply with the Federal face mask mandate. During the same time frame,
The agency announced this week that it is strictly enforcing a zero-tolerance policy toward passengers who cause disturbances on flights or fail to obey flight crew instructions in violation of the FAA’s regulations.
According to travel experts removal of mask-wearing requirement while onboard a plane will significantly reduce tension between passengers and flight crew. As more passengers were vaccinated against COVID-19, mask-wearing rule may expire in mid-September.
Even though it is not clear why there is so much air rage, airline employees and outside experts offer explanations including cramped flights, polarization over wearing face masks, and the pandemic era lockdowns that may have had an impact on people’s mental health.
Airlines, flight attendants, and pilots have also called for the U.S. Justice Department to prosecute unruly and violent passengers.
“These incidents pose a safety and security threat to our passengers and employees, and we respectfully request that the Department of Justice (the “Department”) commit to the full and public prosecution of onboard acts of violence,” wrote industry trade organization Airlines for America.
“We ask that more be done to deter egregious behavior, which is in violation of federal law and crew member instruction. Specifically, the federal government should send a strong and consistent message through criminal enforcement that compliance with Federal law and upholding aviation safety are of paramount importance.”
According to FAA if civil penalties against disruptive passengers are enforced, the passengers will have 30 days after receiving the FAA’s enforcement letter to respond to the agency.