US authorities report a drastic rise of unruly passenger incidents

Shutterstock/Markus Mainka

The tally of reported inflight incidents for US carriers has risen to over 3,300 in 2021, according to the US authorities. The US Federal Aviation Administration has recorded 540 violation cases and acted against 83 cases amounting to fines of about $682,000. 

Prior to the pandemic, the annual average number of passenger misconduct reports ranged between 100 to 150 cases. In the first six months of 2021, the number of cases has skyrocketed exponentially with reports of passengers refusing to adhere to face mask regulations and exhibiting unruly behavior.

In July 2021 alone, the FAA announced about six cases of passenger misconduct where charges against offending travelers summed up to $70,000. The offenses took place on flights with Alaska Airlines, Frontier Airlines, Republic Airlines, and Allegiant Air.

Airlines and unions in the United States have called for additional federal criminal charges against unruly passengers following the “growing escalation” of passengers’ disruptive behavior onboard.

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 action against unruly behavior which is in violation of the US’s federal law.

“In a typical year the agency will end up taking this type of enforcement action in about 100 to 160 enforcement cases so it’s nothing new,” FAA Chief Steve Dickson told ABC News at the time. “What really is new is the volume that we’re seeing right now.”


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