The United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is urging passenger airlines to take more action to help deal with the spike in unruly passengers. The move comes as the air carriers observe a growing number of passengers’ disruptive behavior onboard.

The FAA made a request “to commit to take more action” in a meeting with several groups of US airlines representatives and stakeholders on September 21, 2021. The US aviation regulator also plans to hold similar meetings with representatives of airports in order to address the issue in the coming days, Reuters reported.

According to the FAA, the tally of reported inflight incidents for US carriers has risen to 4,385, of which 3,199 were mask-related disruptions, as of September 21, 2021. The FAA has initiated 789 investigations and commenced enforcement action in 162 cases.

Despite the FAA adopting zero-tolerance policy towards inflight incidents in January 2021, the FAA has called for more help from US airport officials with regards to the violent passengers onboard. According to the FAA investigations, in most cases, alcohol consumption onboard or before boarding into the plane contributes to disruptive behavior. The FAA chief called for airports’ help to prevent passengers from sneaking in alcohol onboard as well as encouraging police to press federal charges.

“We are taking the strongest possible action within our legal authority. But we need your help,” the FAA Chief Steve Dickson wrote in a letter to airport officials made public on August 5, 2021. 

In June 2021, the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA), Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), Airlines for America, and other unions sent a letter to the US Attorney General Merrick Garland, asking for “more be done to deter egregious passenger behavior, which is in violation of federal law”. The US unions sought to add more criminal charges to unruly passengers onboard. 

“We highly commend the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for adopting a stricter legal enforcement policy against unruly airline passengers through Administrator Dickson’s Special Emphasis Enforcement Program,” read the joint letter written on June 21, 2021.

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US airlines and unions are aiming to implement stricter criminal charges against unruly passengers.