FAA makes 'zero tolerance' policy for unruly passengers permanent

The rule allows the FAA to issue fines against passengers for unruly behavior.

April 20, 2022, 5:37 PM

While the mask mandate on public transportation has been lifted, the Federal Aviation Administration's zero-tolerance policy for unruly passengers is here to stay, the agency said Wednesday.

The FAA instituted its zero-tolerance policy during the pandemic in an effort to curb a surge in disruptive behavior on planes.

The rule, which is now permanent, allows the FAA to fine passengers up to $37,000 per violation for unruly behavior.

The FAA said the program has helped reduce the incident rate by more than 60%.

PHOTO: Travelers with and without face masks navigate through the domestic terminal of the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta, April 19, 2022.
Travelers with and without face masks navigate through the domestic terminal of the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport after Biden's administration announced that it will no longer enforce a U.S. mask mandate on public transportation, following a Florida court ruling, in Atlanta, April 19, 2022.
Alyssa Pointer/Reuters

"Behaving dangerously on a plane will cost you; that's a promise," Acting FAA Administrator Billy Nolen said in a news release. "Unsafe behavior simply does not fly and keeping our Zero Tolerance policy will help us continue making progress to prevent and punish this behavior."

This year alone, the FAA has received 1,233 reports of unruly passengers on flights -- 797 of which were mask-related.

The agency has issued over $2 million in fines just in 2022.

As of Feb. 16, 2022, the FAA had referred 80 unruly passenger cases to the FBI for criminal review.

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