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The FAA Refers 22 New Cases of Unruly Passengers to the FBI

In recent years, the aviation industry has been dealing with a high number of unruly passengers. With this trend, it has resulted in injured flight attendants and other passengers. But even if masking protocols are more relaxed these days, it looks like unruly behavior remains rampant on planes.

On Tuesday, the Federal Aviation Administration announced referring 39 unruly passengers for criminal investigation this year to the FBI. This includes 22 new cases for the second quarter of 2023. With the latest addition, it brings the total number of referrals to more than 270 cases since late 2021.

According to the FAA, the agency plans to continue its crackdown on unruly passengers even after the end of the mask mandate. Cases of unruly passengers jumped to 5,981 in 2021, 4,290 of which were mask-related. So far, this number has fallen to 1,177 for this year.

The FAA said that the number of unruly passengers has dropped by 80% since its peak in early 2021. However, the number is still considered “too high.”

US Attorney General Merrick Garland ordered the FBI to prioritize investigating airline passengers who committed assaults. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said that “Unruly behavior poses serious safety concerns for passengers and crew alike, which is why we are addressing this issue aggressively.”

Unruly Passengers and Masking Rules

The FAA has also been aggressive when it comes to proposing fines related to this behavior. In 2021, FAA proposed $5 million in fines. But last year, the agency proposed $8.4 million in fines.

While there were 207 cases of unruly passengers reported in July, it is still an improvement compared to the record 720 cases in March 2021.

In an attempt to address the problem, lawmakers pushed for legislation that would ban passengers from boarding commercial flights if they were fined or convicted of serious physical violence while traveling by air. Lawmakers argue that this potentially acts as a deterrent that could improve safety in the aviation industry.

John Michael Jayme
John Michael Jayme
John Michael Jayme is a Travel Analyst for The Jet Set. He writes about news and events affecting the travel industry.


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