FAA: Getting tough with unruly passengers is paying off

According to the FAA, the rate of unruly passenger incidents on U.S. airlines has fallen by approximately half since January, but is still more than twice the rate in late 2020.
"Our work has an impact, and the trend is moving in a positive direction," Dickson said. We need to keep making progress," Steve Dickson, FAA administrator, said in prepared remarks on Thursday.

American Airlines CEO Doug Parker was frustrated by the increase in unruly passengers.

Dickson stated that the agency will enforce its zero-tolerance policy regarding unruly passengers that it began early in the year. This means that it will not issue warning letters but will move directly to enforcement.

The FAA received 4,385 reports of unruly passengers in 2021. Three thousand nine hundred and fifty-eight (5395) were related to mask wearing. 789 investigations have been initiated by the agency, and 162 civil enforcement cases have been filed. Fines are the most common form of enforcement action.

According to the FAA, incidents involving unruly passengers occurred approximately six times per 10,000 flights as of last week.

Just hours after the House Aviation Subcommittee held an inquiry on the topic, the agency released its latest statement regarding unruly passengers. Lauren Beyer (Vice President of Security and Facilitation for Airlines for America), reiterated the call by the trade group for the Justice Department's intent to file criminal charges against unruly passengers in testimony before the subcommittee.

The unions of flight attendants called for further action, including the creation a federal no fly list for disruptive passengers, criminal prosecution, and confiscation of all alcohol at TSA screening points.

According to the FAA, it will host working sessions with stakeholders from the aviation industry in the coming days to address the unruly passengers. This is to help develop additional measures that the government can take.