In the face of a record number of airline passenger disturbances, the Federal Aviation Administration met this week with airline trade groups, asking them “to commit to take more action” to address rising incidents of unruly or violent passengers.
The FAA urged the aviation groups, including Airlines for America and the Regional Airline Association, to outline what steps they will take to curb such incidents, and present those plans within a week. The agency said it plans to hold similar meetings with representatives from airports and labor.
According to reports in Reuters, the FAA and the industry trade groups met to discuss “ways the industry can work together to reduce the number of unruly passenger incidents.” the FAA said, adding it “believes additional action by the airlines and all aviation stakeholders is necessary to stop the unsafe behavior.”
The FAA’s move to have airlines formulate plans to deal with inflight disturbances reflects a growing problem with egregious passenger conduct on flights.
In January, FAA Administrator Steve Dickson imposed a zero-tolerance policy toward unruly passengers aboard airplanes. However the number of incidents where cabin crews and other travelers have been harassed, threatened, sexually assaulted and, in some cases, physically attacked has surged.
So far this year, the FAA has received 4,385 reports of unruly passenger incidents, including 3,199 that started with refusal to follow mask guidelines. The FAA has taken action in 162 of those cases, issuing more than $1 million in proposed fines.
However the threat of FAA civil fines seems to done little to deter passengers behaving badly. As a result, Dickson sent a letter last month to airport officials around the country urging the airports and local law enforcement to file charges more often against unruly airline passengers.
In June, a coalition of industry stakeholders, including A4A and major aviation labor unions, sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland urging the Department of Justice to “ensure that egregious onboard conduct is fully and criminally prosecuted, sending a strong public message of deterrence, safety and security.”