Travelers who are thinking about acting unruly on a plane just may want to think twice about their actions, as the Federal Aviation Administration has handed down some hefty fines to a handful of passengers who failed to follow the rules.

In four instances, the FAA has issued fines to passengers that range from $9,000 to $32,750 for interfering with cabin crew instructions, assaulting flight attendants, and violating other various federal regulations.



The most significant fine was issued Feb. 7 to a JetBlue passenger who was heading from the Dominican Republic to New York. The passenger, who was fined $32,750, failed to wear a face mask, shouted obscenities at crew members, and threw an empty alcohol bottle and food, nearly hitting a passenger.

The incident continued with the unruly passenger grabbing one flight attendant’s arm and striking another flight attendant in the arm twice and scratching their hand. The passenger also drank alcohol that was not served to her by the cabin crew. The incident ended with the flight returning to the Dominican Republic.

In another onboard violation, a $16,500 fine was levied to a passenger on a Southwest flight heading to Sacramento, California, from Chicago on Jan. 26. According to the FAA, the passenger refused to wear his face mask over his nose and mouth during boarding and in his seat on the plane.

When asked to comply with the airline’s mask policy, the passenger allegedly became combative and used offensive language. The passenger was asked to leave the plane by a airline supervisor. As the passenger left the plane, he called two flight attendants “pathetic” and hit one flight attendant with his bags.

A third incident of an unruly passenger occurred on a Delta flight going from Minneapolis to Philadelphia on Dec. 22. The FAA said that a passenger got out of her seat during takeoff and walked down the plane’s aisle repeatedly, saying she wanted to get off the aircraft.

Multiple flight attendants told the passenger to return to her seat and put her seatbelt on, but she refused. The flight returned to Minneapolis as a result, and the woman was fined $9,000 for the incident.

Another $9,000 fine was issued to a passenger on Jan. 30 on an Alaska Airlines flight heading from Bozeman, Montana, to Seattle. The FAA claims this passenger also violated the airline’s face mask policy while boarding the plane, even after he was repeatedly reminded of the requirement.

The unruly passaenger failed to comply with the face-covering rule as the plane was taxing down the runway, causing the captain to return the flight to the gate. The passenger was removed from the plane and fined $9,000 for the violation.

The FAA has said that it is enforcing a zero-tolerance policy towards passengers who are unruly, cause disturbances on planes, or disobey flight crew instructions as a violation of agency regulations or federal law.

The FAA said in a statement, “Federal law prohibits interfering with aircraft crew or physically assaulting or threatening to physically assault aircraft crew or anyone else on an aircraft. Passengers are subject to civil penalties for such misconduct, which can threaten the safety of the flight by disrupting or distracting cabin crew from their safety duties.

“Additionally, federal law provides for criminal fines and imprisonment of passengers who interfere with the performance of a crewmember’s duties by assaulting or intimidating that crewmember,” the agency added.

Passengers wearing protective facemasks as a preventive measure against Covid-19 leave a plane upon their arrival at the Tianhe International Airport in Wuhan, China Photo: AFP / Hector RETAMAL