(NEXSTAR) – The Federal Aviation Administration isn’t kidding around about its “zero tolerance” policy.
On Wednesday, the FAA proposed civil penalties against four separate passengers for offenses allegedly committed between Dec. 2020 and Feb. 2021. The amounts of the proposed fines ranged between $9,000 and $32,750, the latter being one of the steepest fines issued to any one passenger since the FAA adopted stricter policies for unruly passengers in January.
The steepest of Wednesday’s proposed fines concerned a female passenger aboard a JetBlue flight from the Dominican Republic to New York, according to an FAA press release.
Her offenses allegedly included: failing to comply with “multiple” flight attendants who asked her to wear a face mask; throwing food, as well as an empty alcohol bottle that almost hit another passenger; shouting obscenities at the crew; grabbing the arms of two separate flight attendants, causing pain to one and scratching the other; and drinking alcohol that was not served to her.
As a result of her actions, the plane returned to the Dominican Republic.
In addition to the JetBlue passenger, the FAA proposed fines of $16,500 against a Southwest passenger for refusing to properly wear his mask upon boarding, and then hitting a flight attendant with his bag when asked to leave.
Two other passengers were proposed fines of $9,000 each — one for refusing to stay seated during takeoff of her Delta flight, and another for failing to comply with Alaska Airlines’ current mask policies.
Each passenger has been given 30 days to respond after receiving their enforcement letters.
The FAA originally announced its zero-tolerance policy for unruly passengers on January 13, following a “disturbing increase” in violent or disruptive behavior.
The FAA specifically noted a “proliferation” of such conduct stemming from passengers’ refusal to wear masks, and “following the January 6, 2021 violence at the U.S. Capitol,” according to an order signed by FAA Chief Steve Dickson.
“Flying is the safest mode of transportation and I signed this order to keep it that way,” he said at the time.
This week, the FAA confirmed that airlines were still reporting high numbers of unruly passengers, with the agency receiving 1,300 since February. Of those, 260 had been identified as potential violations, and 20 enforcement cases have so far been initiated, an FAA spokesperson confirmed.