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23 AUGUST 2021
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Disruptive US airline passengers have been fined upward of $1m in civil penalties this year, with a majority of the fines related to refusing to wear face masks, as required by federal law.
In any other year, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) sees 100 to 150 instances of bad passenger behaviour, but 2021 has proven to be much more challenging.
Of the whopping 3,900 incidents this year, 2,867 – or 74% – were related to refusal to wear masks, the FAA said.
Among all cases of poor passenger conduct, there were 34 passengers facing more than $500,000 in fines. The total amount of proposed civil penalties exceeds $1m this year, NBC News reported.
Of the 34 new cases, 22 involved passengers who did not follow the mask mandate that the Transportation Security Administration extended to next January, according to NBC News.
On a flight from New York to California in May, a male passenger who refused to wear a mask allegedly harassed other passengers by throwing a playing card at one person and making ‘stabbing gestures’ at others aboard the aircraft.
He also snorted what appeared to be cocaine out of a plastic bag. Flight crew had to arm themselves with the mallets used for crushing ice, as well as zip-ties in the event they had to restrain him, NPR reported.
Many of the other incidents detailed in the FAA report are of passengers refusing to mask up and acting aggressively and unruly while in the air.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) began requiring masks on all forms of public transport in January 2021, including aircraft and buses. Outdoor transportation areas are exempt.
Unruly and dangerous passengers can face potential criminal charges, heavy fines or lifetime bans on certain airlines.
All comments are filtered to exclude any excesses but the Editor does not have to agree with what is being said. 100 words maximum
Joe White, London
Do we have any statistics for the UK?