FAA publishes audio calls from pilots reporting unruly passengers on PSA
WASHINGTON – The Federal Aviation Administration has launched a spectacular new public service announcement to highlight the problem of unruly passengers.
The PSA, posted on Twitter, features audio calls from pilots reporting disruptions caused by disruptive pilots in mid-flight. In the background, we can hear screams coming from the passenger cabin.
“We have a disruptive customer in the back,” reported one pilot.
“Declared an emergency. We would like to divert,” said another pilot.
The PSA ends with the caption: “You don’t want your pilots to be distracted. Unruly behavior does not steal. “
The FAA said that since January 1, authorities have received 3,988 reports of unruly passengers. More than 2,900 of those calls were from passengers who refused to wear a mask as required by federal law to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Six hundred and ninety-three appeals resulted in an investigation and 132 cases resulted in penalties.
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Rowdy Airlines passengers have now racked up a record $ 1 million in potential fines this year, a toll in the sky as travelers returned after most were grounded by the pandemic in 2020.
Alcohol is another common factor regarding unruly passengers. American Airlines on Thursday extended its ban on selling alcohol in the main cabin until Jan. 18, matching the federal mask mandate schedule. American still sells alcohol to business and first class passengers.
On a JetBlue flight in May, a man threw his carry-on at other passengers, grabbed an air hostess by the ankles and tuck his head under her skirt before being held up by zip ties in plastic. The FAA wants to fine him $ 45,000.
The FAA is seeking a $ 42,000 fine against a passenger who refused to wear a mask on another JetBlue flight in May and threatened other passengers, including stabbing some people. Crew members confiscated a bag containing a substance the man was sniffing, and then armed themselves with ice mallets before police knocked him off the plane.
The FAA did not identify any of the passengers, including a man who allegedly punched a flight attendant in the nose on a third JetBlue flight. Although police have been called in several cases, it is not known how many passengers called by the FAA face criminal charges.
RELATED: Flight attendants worried about rising number of unruly passengers
This month, the FAA chief called on airport officials across the country to work with local law enforcement to prosecute more cases. The FAA does not have the power to lay criminal charges.
Nearly one in five flight attendants say they have witnessed physical incidents involving passengers this year, and their union is calling for criminal charges against those who act on planes.
The FAA announced a “zero tolerance” policy against disruptive behavior on flights in January.
Air travel to the United States has returned to nearly 80% of pre-pandemic levels, but airlines have reduced the number of flights by a similar amount, resulting in crowded planes.
Bad weather and lack of crews after airlines downsized last year have contributed to tens of thousands of canceled and delayed flights this summer, according to figures from the FlightAware tracking service, making trips even more stressful than before.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.