Thirty-four passengers accused of unruly behavior on planes are facing more than $500,000 in fines, bringing the total amount of proposed civil penalties to more than $1 million this year, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
In a typical year, the FAA sees 100 to 150 formal cases of bad passenger behavior. Since January, the FAA has reported nearly 3,900 incidents, including 2,867 cases involving passengers who refused to comply with the federal mask mandate on planes. Of the 34 new cases, 22 involved passengers who did not follow the mask mandate that the Transportation Security Administration extended to next January, according to the FAA.
News of proposed fines topping $1 million comes just weeks after the FAA warned airports across the country to monitor serving alcohol to passengers, citing the spike in unruly or dangerous passenger behavior aboard airplanes this year.
The most extreme incident involved a passenger on a JetBlue flight from New York to Orlando on May 24 who was fined $45,000 after allegedly throwing objects at other passengers, refusing to stay seated and lying on the aisle floor, according to the FAA. The passenger was also accused of grabbing a flight attendant by her ankles and putting his head up her skirt, which forced the pilot to make an emergency landing in Richmond, Virginia.
Another incident on a JetBlue flight from New York to San Francisco on May 16 involved a passenger who was accused of snorting what appeared to be cocaine, which crew members later confiscated, according to the FAA.
The passenger allegedly failed to comply with the mask mandate, made "non-consensual physical contact" with another passenger, threatened another with physical harm and made stabbing gestures toward multiple travelers, the FAA said. Flight crew members equipped themselves with flex cuffs and ice mallets to protect themselves while the flight was diverted to Minneapolis, Minnesota, where the passenger was removed and now faces a fine of $42,000.
And on April 12, a passenger aboard a JetBlue flight from Boston to Orlando was fined $29,000 after allegedly refusing to follow the mask mandate, shouting obscenities at crew members and punching a seated passenger who she bumped into while going to the lavatory, the FAA said.
Unruly and dangerous passengers can face potential criminal charges, heavy fines or lifetime bans on certain airlines.