Passengers board American Airlines flights from California to North Carolina. Photo by Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images
The FAA announced an additional $225,287 in civil sanctions against unruly passengers.
A passenger is being charged with punching her family members and throwing trash at the crew. She faces a $32,000 penalty.
In 2021, more than 100 instances of physical assault were reported to the FAA.
It appears that the incident that resulted in the Federal Aviation Administration's most severe civil penalty seems to have been over a seatbelt.
According to the FAA, Horizon Air passengers refused to buckle up on a flight from Austin, Texas to San Francisco last May. She then punched and screamed at her husband and son.
Crew tried to intervene but she threw garbage at them and "snatched cookies" from a nearby passenger, the agency claims.
After being notified by the agency of its enforcement decision, she is now facing a $32,000 penalty and has 30 days for her response.
Horizon Air passenger was among ten cases of physical assault on US aircraft announced by the FAA on Wednesday. This totals $225,287 civil penalties.
A Delta passenger was fined $20,000 for an alleged seatbelt violation. This escalated into physical violence against a flight attendant and threats that he would "[expletive] raise his **," according to the FAA.
Half of these cases were related to violations of FAA's facial masking regulations. Four crew members are accused of reacting violently to instructions to wear masks. One is accused of spitting at a crew member, refusing to store her carry-on baggage, and one of throwing stones at a crew member.
Federal law states that interfering with an aircraft crew is illegal. This includes physically or verbally assaulting crew members or any other passengers on the aircraft. If a person is found guilty, they could face fines or prison time.
The FAA has received more than 5,000 complaints of passengers being disruptive, but enforcement actions have only been initiated in 227 cases. This means that offenders are subject to civil penalties and not charged with any criminal offense.
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This latest announcement has revealed that more than 100 passenger disturbance reports in 2018 involved physical assault. The total penalties for 2021 are now $1.2 million.
Although the FAA cannot issue civil penalties, the agency has previously stated that it has referred 37 of its "most egregious cases" to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for criminal prosecution.
Previous incidents have seen flight attendants verbally and physically abused by passengers.
Dominick Reuter can be reached at email address Dominick.
Business Insider has the original article.