FAA extends ‘zero-tolerance policy’ for bad behavior on flights

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is extending its zero tolerance policy for bad behavior on flights as officials review hundreds of cases involving unruly passengers, including many who refused to wear face masks amid the pandemic.

The FAA said in an emailed press release that the extension will remain as long as the federal transportation mask mandate remains in effect. It noted that it will decide whether to revise the policy based on new data.

“I have decided to extend the FAA’s unruly-passenger zero-tolerance policy as we continue to do everything we can to confront the pandemic,” FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said in a statement issued Monday and obtained by The Hill.

“The policy directs our safety inspectors and attorneys to take strong enforcement action against any passenger who disrupts or threatens the safety of a flight, with penalties ranging from fines to jail time,” Dickson said. “The number of cases we’re seeing is still far too high, and it tells us urgent action continues to be required.”

The zero tolerance policy was first implemented in early January shortly after videos emerged showing heated exchanges between U.S. lawmakers and supporters of former President Trump at airports following the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

Under the policy, passengers can face fines of up to $35,000 and jail time for assaulting or threatening airline crew or passengers. It was due to expire March 30.

The FAA said Tuesday that airlines have reported more than 500 unruly passenger cases since late December. The agency has initiated approximately 20 enforcement actions and is reviewing more than 450 cases.

The agency said the majority of the cases involve not complying with the face mask order, but the agency said it’s concerned about all types of unruly behavior.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) under the Biden administration issued an order in late January mandating masks be worn on airplanes, airports and other transportation hubs.

The Transportation Security Administration was authorized to fine passengers who fail to comply with the mask mandate.

Tags Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 face masks Donald Trump Federal Aviation Administration Transportation Security Administration

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