The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is extending its zero-tolerance policy for unruly airline passengers, as incidents of disruptive behavior are still “far too high” to rescind the order, according to the head of the agency.
FAA Chief Steve Dickson announced the extension on Monday. The agency’s zero-tolerance policy, originally announced in January, was previously scheduled to expire on March 30.
“The number of cases we’re seeing is still far too high, and it tells us urgent action continues to be required,” said Dickson, who added that the FAA’s safety inspectors and attorneys will “take strong enforcement action against any passenger who disrupts or threatens the safety of a flight, with penalties ranging from fines to jail time.”
The extended policy will last for as long as the CDC and TSA’s current mask mandates remain in effect for airline passengers and those passing through security checkpoints or travel hubs, the FAA says.
Since late December, the FAA has received over 500 complaints from airlines regarding such behavior — with most, but not all cases involving passengers who refused to comply with mask mandates.
(Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
The original policy, which first took effect in January, was enacted in response to a “disturbing increase” in unruly behavior, Dickson said at the time. The order also took effect approximately one week after airlines reported an uptick in unruly passengers, with some carriers citing cases onboard flights traveling to or from Washington D.C. during the week of the Jan. 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol.
“We will no longer adjudicate certain of these unruly passenger cases with counseling or warnings. We’re going to go straight to enforcement,” said Dickson, who warned violators of possible jail time or fines of up to $35,000.
Since late December, the FAA has received over 500 complaints from airlines regarding such behavior — with most, but not all cases involving passengers who refused to comply with mask mandates. Fox News has also previously reported that thousands of Americans (upwards of 2,800) were listed on the collective “no-fly” lists of the nation’s major airlines as of mid-January, with the carriers confirming that many had been banned from travel for defying mask mandates during the course of the pandemic.