It has been an unruly return to the skies for so many passengers post-COVID.
According to data from the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA), more than 3,100 reports of passenger behavior have been reported just since January 1, with many of those complaints highlighting verbal abuse lobbed at flight attendants trying to enforce mask mandates onboard, a rule that remains in place into September.
The problem has become bad enough for the Association of Professional Flight Attendants to call it “out of control” and “coming to the point where we have to defend ourselves” earlier this year. And for Airlines for America (A4A), the industry trade group for U.S. airlines, to write Attorney General Merrick Garland this week to urge “swift prosecution for cases of unruly passenger behavior.”
The FAA, for its part, has upped enforcement and punishment for the behavior.
This week, the FAA proposed $124,400 in total fines against eight passengers for interfering with flight attendants, including “assaulting flight crew, drinking alcohol brought aboard the plane, and refusing to wear facemasks.”
And last month, the FAA proposed fines against another four passengers, ranging from $7,500 to $15,000, for their own behavior including three passengers who refused to comply with requests to wear masks and one who activated a lavatory smoke dedicator with an e-cigarette.
In total, since Jan. 1, the FAA has proposed fines totaling $500,000.
Now, as TSA volume continues to recovery and with more trouble for flight attendants on the horizon, the FAA is launching a campaign to try to curtail that bad behavior.
The FAA this week shared its new approach to trying to get passengers to behave correctly, and that includes targeting travelers with new ads on social media.
Would you act this way at your Grandma or Meemaw's house? Then don't do it on a plane!??— The FAA ?? (@FAANews) June 22, 2021
Your bad behavior puts everyone at risk including the flight crew. It can cost you $35,000??or #JailTime . Is that how you want to spend your summer vacation? #FlySmart pic.twitter.com/kvO20aTbXs
“Would you act this way at your Grandma or Meemaw’s house?” the FAA asks in a new social media posting. “Then don’t do it on a plane!”
“Your bad behavior puts everyone t risk including the flight crew. It can cost you $35.000 or Jail Time. Is that how you want to spend your summer vacation?” The ad continues.
The FAA has proposed fines from $9K to $22K against eight passengers for allegedly interfering with and, in some cases, assaulting flight attendants. We have zero tolerance for dangerous behavior. Our fines can reach up to $35K. https://t.co/q5OJutOtQS #FlySmart pic.twitter.com/SRgpoxy99d— The FAA ?? (@FAANews) June 22, 2021
And another channels mothers and fathers everywhere on long road trips with small children.
Hey airline passengers, don't hold up the flight with your bad behavior! It can cost you $35,000 or worse, jail time. Do you really want to spend your vacation in jail? #FlySmart pic.twitter.com/uhMwl4Vmj8— The FAA ?? (@FAANews) June 23, 2021
If the social media ads don’t persuade passengers to better their behavior, the FAA will continue to enforce its zero policy order for unruly passengers, a policy that was supposed to end at the end of March but hasn’t because of the proliferation of these incidents.
That policy means no warnings or counseling for passengers who commit “troubling” incidents, which was the FAA’s previous policy. Now, the FAA will continue to pursue legal enforcement against each and every passenger who is deemed to have caused disturbances on flights or fail to obey flight crew instructions.