Only a couple dozen unruly passenger cases sent to FBI: report

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The Federal Aviation Administration has only referred a couple dozen cases of unruly passenger behavior to the FBI, the agency confirmed to The Hill.

The FAA confirmed that 37 cases of unruly passenger behavior have been referred to the FBI out of 227 enforcement cases that have been initiated. As of the latest agency data from Tuesday, the FAA reported that it received 5,033 reports of unruly passengers and 950 investigations have since been launched.

An FAA spokesperson told The Hill that the agency refers the “more egregious” cases to the FBI for review.

“Where the evidence supports criminal review, the FAA refers the cases to the FBI,” a joint statement from the FAA and Department of Justice noted.

“Expeditiously referring the most violent, physical assaults against crewmembers and passengers to the Department of Justice for public prosecution is the most effective way to deter bad actors and put a stop to the spike in disruptive passengers. We applaud this move and call on the Justice Department to take swift action,” Association of Flight Attendants-CWA International President Sara Nelson said in a statement on the news.

A public service announcement issued on Thursday by the FAA also warned viewers to avoid unruly passenger behavior when they were on flights. The video showed a montage of flight numbers where incidents allegedly occurred and copies of letters sent to people accused of behaving inappropriately on planes.

“You don’t want this letter,” the public service announcement reads.

CNN was the first to report the news of the 37 unruly passengers cases.

Last month during a visit in Illinois, President Biden told United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby and others during his remarks that he had directed the Justice Department to address reports of unruly passengers.

“Scott I want you to know I talked to the Justice Department to make sure that we deal with the violence on aircraft coming from those people who are taking issues,” Biden said.

“We’re going to deal with that,” he added.

The number of cases stems in part from passengers who have refused to wear facial coverings on flights, which is federally mandated, in addition to other forms of inappropriate or unlawful behavior against crew members and passengers. 

“Let this serve both as a warning and a deterrent: If you disrupt a flight, you risk not just fines from the FAA but federal criminal prosecution as well,” FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said in a statement.

Tags DOJ FAA FBI Joe Biden unruly passengers

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