Unruly behavior must stop. That’s the demand from American Airlines (A1G) (AAL), which has banned a passenger from flying after he physically assaulted a flight attendant. 

American Airlines (A1G) (AAL) flight 976 from JFK, New York to John Wayne airport in Orange County California was forced to divert to Denver after the incident on October 27, 2021. Passengers were quoted in US media reports as saying the passenger punched the flight attendant.

Incidents of unruly passengers have been on the rise, and airlines and unions have repeatedly called for more to be done to halt the trend. 

 

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US president Joe Biden said he had instructed the country’s Justice Department to ‘deal’ with the rise of unruly passengers on planes.
 

Doug Parker, chief executive of American Airlines (A1G) (AAL), took to social media to discuss the latest incident of unruly behavior, which he said was happening far too often.  

“On Wednesday evening, we had one of the worst displays of unruly behavior we have ever seen, when a passenger violently physically assaulted a flight attendant,” Parker said in an Instagram post on October 28, 2021.  

American Airlines (A1G) (AAL) will not tolerate misconduct towards crew members, whether on board or at the airport, Parker said.

He added: “As for this individual, I guarantee you he will never be allowed to fly American Airlines (A1G) (AAL) again. But that is not enough. This type of behaviour has to stop.”

Parker said criminal prosecution was the best deterrent and that American Airlines (A1G) (AAL) was doing all it could to ensure the passenger was prosecuted “to the fullest extent”.

The passenger was arrested soon after landing, Parker said. Along with local law enforcement and the FBI, American Airlines (A1G) (AAL) is also working with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which has the ability to levy fines for unruly passengers. 

“This will not just end with a travel ban,” Parker said. 

The FAA can propose fines of up to $37,000 per violation for unruly passengers. One incident can comprise multiple violations, meaning fines per passenger can exceed that amount. 

So far this year, it has received 4,941 reports of unruly passengers, with 3,580 of those related to mask-wearing. It has started 923 investigations and commenced 216 enforcement cases. 

On August 19, 2021, the FAA said that it had issued more than $1 million in fines against airline passengers for unruly behaviour. 

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The FAA urges airlines to take more action against unruly passengers.