A passenger on a Delta Air Lines flight who hit a flight attendant and tried to open the cockpit door has been fined $52,500 from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
The incident occurred in December 2020 on a flight from Hawaii to Seattle. The FAA alleges that the passenger tried to open the cockpit door, repeatedly refused to comply with crew members’ instructions, and physically assaulted a flight attendant by striking him in the face and pushing him to the floor. The passenger then threatened the flight attendant by charging at him as he was trying to restrain the passenger. Flight attendants, with the help of another passenger, placed plastic handcuffs on the disruptive passenger. Later, the passenger freed himself from one of the handcuffs and struck the flight attendant in the face a second time. Police boarded the aircraft after it landed and took the passenger into custody.
Federal law prohibits interfering with aircraft crew or physically assaulting or threatening to physically assault aircraft crew or anyone else on an aircraft. Passengers are subject to civil penalties because such misconduct can threaten the safety of the flight by disrupting or distracting cabin crew from their safety duties. Additionally, federal law provides for criminal fines and imprisonment of passengers who interfere with the performance of a crewmember’s duties by assaulting or intimidating that crewmember.
The FAA says they are strictly enforcing a zero-tolerance policy toward passengers who cause disturbances on flights or fail to obey flight crew instructions in violation of the FAA’s regulations or engage in conduct proscribed by federal law.