Aviation

Democrats press DOJ to prosecute unruly air passengers

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Democratic lawmakers are pressing the Department of Justice (DOJ) to prosecute unruly airline passengers following a spate of rowdy and sometimes violent incidents in recent months. 

“We write today to express our concern regarding the disturbing instances of air and airport passenger rage,” the Democrat lawmakers wrote in a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland on Tuesday. 

“It is well documented that our nation has witnessed a sharp increase in air and airport confrontational behavior, particularly since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic,” they added. “This has led to a dramatic increase in unruly and disruptive passenger behavior onboard aircraft toward crewmembers and toward passenger service agents at airports.”

The letter was signed by House Reps Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas.), Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.), Nikema Williams (D-Ga.), André Carson (D-Ind.) and Jake Auchincloss (D-Mass.) and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.).

The letter noted a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) statistic that as of Oct. 3, there were 4,626 reports of unruly passengers incidents in 2021, 3,366 related to mask wearing.

The FAA earlier this year instituted a zero tolerance policy against unruly passengers, requiring agency safety inspectors to conduct enforcement investigations against any passenger who threatens or interferes with airline crews, the letter said. 

The letter also urged the DOJ to direct federal authorities to fully investigate reported incidents on aircraft and prosecute those who are criminally responsible.

The lawmakers also suggested the creation of a system in which flight attendants can more easily file a police report, citing tight flight schedules. 

“We thank the Department of Justice in advance for your consideration and we respectfully request that you immediately direct federal prosecutors to dedicate the resources necessary to onboard acts of violence,” the letter said. 

Tags Eddie Bernice Johnson Eleanor Holmes Norton Frederica Wilson Jake Auchincloss Merrick Garland U.S. Department of Justice unruly passengers

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