WASHINGTON — In what has been an egregious year for airline passengers behaving badly, the Federal Aviation Administration on Tuesday announced a total of $124,500 in fines against eight passengers on various flights. Some of them are accused of physically attacking flight crews.
Airlines have reported about 3,000 cases of disruptive passengers since Jan. 1, according to the FAA, which began tracking it this year. About 2,300 of those incidents involved passengers who refused to obey the federal requirement to wear a face mask.
A $22,000 fine is being proposed against a passenger on a Feb. 15 SkyWest Airlines flight from Denver to Gypsum, Colo. The FAA said the passenger ignored orders to wear his facemask, drank alcohol that SkyWest didn't serve him -- a violation of FAA regulations -- and kept walking through the cabin while the fasten seatbelt sign was on.
A $21,000 fine is being proposed for a Feb. 22 Southwest Airlines passenger from Dallas to Albuquerque. The FAA alleges the man repeatedly refused to wear his facemask before takeoff. The pilot returned to the gate so the man could be escorted off. He allegedly threw the mask at a customer service supervisor and hit him in the jaw. The passenger was taken into custody by Dallas police and cited for assault.
A passenger on a Jan. 20 SkyWest flight from Phoenix to Hermosillo, Mexico, started hitting the ceiling of the plane when it was announced the flight would have to return to Phoenix due to bad weather, the FAA alleges. It got so out of hand, a flight attendant allegedly had to recruit three able-bodied passengers to subdue the man if necessary. The FAA said the man hit another passenger in the shoulder after the plane landed. Police were called to escort him off the plane. The proposed fine is $19,000.
Another $15,000 fine is being proposed for a passenger who refused to wear a mask and allegedly pushed or shoved a flight attendant, the FAA said. It happened on a Feb. 7 Alaska Airlines Flight from Chantilly, Va., to Seattle.
A passenger on a Jan. 21 Allegiant Air flight from Syracuse, N.Y., to Fort Lauderdale allegedly drank his own alcohol, refused to wear a mask and shouted profanities at flight attendants. The FAA said he was met at the gate by law enforcement. The proposed fine is $14,000.
Law enforcement also met a woman at the gate after her Feb. 25 Endeavour Airlines flight from New York City to Portland, Maine. The FAA alleges the woman was repeatedly told to properly wear her mask and that she kept standing up when the seatbelt sign was on. She's also facing a $14,000 fine.
A $10,500 fine is proposed for a passenger on a Feb. 25 Southwest flight from Los Angeles to Sacramento that had to return to the gate. The FAA said the passenger was not wearing his mask, refused to turn off his phone and was cursing out flight attendants. The man was escorted off the plane and met by law enforcement.
Finally, a $9,000 fine is proposed for a Feb. 19 Allegiant Air passenger who flew from Greensboro, N.C. to St. Petersburg, Fla. The FAA said the man refused to wear his mask, argued with a flight attendant and began to unbuckle his seatbelt to "get into it and get to the bottom of this." The man also allegedly took photos and videos of passengers without their consent.
The FAA announced a “zero-tolerance” policy against disruptive behavior on flights back in January. The agency is attempting to levy fines that can top $30,000 against more than 50 passengers and has identified more than 400 other cases for possible enforcement.
U.S. airlines have banned at least 3,000 passengers since May of last year, and that doesn't include two of the largest, American and Southwest, which declined to provide figures. Airlines have also stripped some customers of frequent-flyer benefits.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.