The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced on April 20, 2022 that its Zero Tolerance Policy against unruly passengers will be made permanent.

The FAA implemented the policy on January 13, 2021, after seeing an increase in unruly passenger incidents in airports and on flights. Under the policy, the FAA issues fines to passengers for unruly behavior instead of warning letters or counseling.  

In November 2021, the number of incidents reached over 5,000. It was enough for the Department of Justice (DOJ) to direct US attorneys to prioritize the prosecution of airline passengers who have committed federal crimes aboard aircraft.

According to the FAA, the Zero Tolerance policy, combined with the agency’s public awareness campaign, has helped reduce the incident rate by more than 60%. The FAA said it will continue to work with its airline, labor, airport and security and law enforcement partners to help drive down the number of incidents.   

“Behaving dangerously on a plane will cost you; that’s a promise,” Acting FAA Administrator Billy Nolen said in a statement

“Unsafe behavior simply does not fly and keeping our Zero Tolerance policy will help us continue making progress to prevent and punish this behavior.”   

One of the key issues resulting in unruly behavior over the past year has been mask-wearing on board aircraft. However, a federal judge this week voided the mask mandate on public transport. 

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The US Dept. of Justice says it will appeal to bring back the face mask mandate if the CDC decides it is still necessary.