The FAA is Extending its Zero-Tolerance Policy for Unruly Passengers

FAA Administrator Steve Dixon released this statement regarding the zero-tolerance policy for unruly passengers:

“I have decided to extend the FAA’s unruly-passenger zero-tolerance policy as we continue to do everything we can to confront the pandemic. The policy directs our safety inspectors and attorneys to take strong enforcement action against any passenger who disrupts or threatens the safety of a flight, with penalties ranging from fines to jail time. The number of cases we’re seeing is still far too high, and it tells us urgent action continues to be required.”

The FAA has reiterated numerous times recently the following:

  • Interfering with the duties of a crewmember violates federal law.
  • Federal Aviation Regulations 91.11, 121.580 and 135.120 state that “no person may assault, threaten, intimidate, or interfere with a crewmember in the performance of the crewmember’s duties aboard an aircraft being operated.”
  • The FAA’s database contains only those incidents reported to FAA. Reporting is at the discretion of the crewmember.
  • Security violations are excluded. Those cases are handled by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).
  • Updated numbers are posted on this web page quarterly.
  • The repercussions for passengers who engage in unruly behavior can be substantial. They can be fined by FAA or prosecuted on criminal charges.
  • As part of the FAA’s Reauthorization Bill (PDF) the FAA can propose up to $35,000 per violation for unruly passenger cases. Previously, the maximum civil penalty per violation was $25,000. One incident can result in multiple violations.