FAA steps up enforcement against unruly airline passengers

Federal officials say they're going to get tougher on airline passengers who disrupt flights

The FAA said under an order signed by Administrator Stephen Dickson, unruly passengers will no longer get warnings. Instead, the agency said, it will launch legal enforcement actions. Penalties can includes fines up to $35,000 and jail terms for passengers who assault or threaten airline crews or other passengers.

The new policy will be in effect through March 30. It won quick praise from the head of the largest U.S. flight attendants' union.

“First strike and you’re out. We applaud FAA Administrator Dickson for taking this clear stand for our safety and security,” Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants, said in a statement. “This will help serve as a deterrent to unruly passengers who had been bucking the rules of aviation safety.”

The FAA said it has pursued more than 1,300 enforcement actions against passengers in the past 10 years. It did not immediately provide a count of recent cases.

Some lawmakers and airline union officials have demanded that people who took part in the riot at the Capitol be placed on the federal no-fly list. The FAA said it does not have authority over that list but works with law enforcement agencies on security threats.