The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

1,300 travelers have been reported for ‘unruly behavior’ on flights since February, FAA says

The agency says it identified possible violations in about 260 cases

A poster at the airport in Honolulu in October promotes the wearing of masks during the coronavirus pandemic. (Caleb Jones/AP)

The Federal Aviation Administration said that it is reviewing 1,300 reports of passengers behaving badly on flights since February and that it has identified potential violations in about 260 cases.

The agency said that 20 passengers have received notice that they face possible enforcement actions — which could include jail time or thousands of dollars in fines — and that it is preparing “a number” of additional enforcement actions.

The FAA had initiated only 1,300 such cases in the past decade.

While the agency tracks the number of enforcement actions against passengers, officials said it had not traditionally said how many reports it received since the number remained relatively consistent year over year. However, a few months ago, after noticing a “significant” increase in the number of reports being submitted by flight crews, it began to track those as well, officials said.

In response to a wave of disruptive behavior on flights linked to the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, FAA Administrator Steve Dickson signed an order in January establishing a “zero-tolerance” policy for passengers who refused to follow crew members’ orders. The order was set to expire in March, but was extended indefinitely.

FAA warns of jail time, fines as airports and airlines prep for unruly passengers ahead of the inauguration

The Biden administration also has taken a more aggressive approach toward mask-wearing, mandating such behavior in many settings.

Last week, the FAA announced enforcement actions against three passengers with fines ranging from $14,500 to $31,750. The three incidents involved travelers bringing their own alcohol aboard flights.

Two of the incidents took place on Jan. 4 and involved passengers on the same JetBlue flight from Haiti to Boston. A third incident took place Jan. 14 on a SkyWest flight from Yuma, Ariz., to Dallas-Fort Worth.

On Friday, the Transportation Security Administration announced that it would extend a requirement that people wear masks in transportation settings, including at airports, on commercial aircraft, and on buses and trains through Sept. 13. The requirement had been set to expire May 11.