Fines Issued To Unruly Passengers On Airplanes Hits Shocking Milestone

by : Hannah Smith on : 19 Aug 2021 18:38
Fines Issued To Unruly Passengers On Airplanes Hits Shocking MilestoneMiami-Dade Police/6ABC Philadelphia

It seems like barely a day goes by without hearing about yet another unruly airline passenger, and it seems like flight crews have had just about enough.

According to new data released by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the amount of fines handed out to commercial passengers this year alone has reached an eye-watering amount, as officials look to crackdown on bad behaviour on flights.

More than $1 million issued in airline fines (PA Images)PA Images

On Thursday, August 19, the FAA announced that 34 passengers had been issued with fines totalling a whopping $531,545, with offences ranging from refusing to wear a mask to throwing luggage across the cabin.

That brings the total amount raked in since January thanks to angry passengers to more than $1 million.

Documents seen by CNN have shown that 80 passengers have been invoiced for their actions on flights, with almost 4,000 individual incidents reported by flight crews this year alone.


While the majority of reports concern passengers who have refused to comply with mask mandates on board flights, the fines have been handed out for more serious offences, including hitting other passengers and flight crew and being verbally abusive to staff.

The largest individual fine – a massive $45,000 – was handed out to a passenger who forced a flight from New York to Orlando to make an emergency landing after he threw luggage at a fellow passenger and proceeded to try and stick his head up a flight attendant’s skirt.

Another passenger was fined $42,000 after being caught snorting cocaine and making stabbing gestures at other flyers, while a third was accused of refusing to wear a mask and making ‘pew pew’ noises while acting ‘as though his hand was a gun’.

Officials are calling for unruly passengers to face prison time (PA Images)PA Images

While the FAA is able to hit passenger with mega-fines like these, it is unable to pursue criminal charges – something the Association of Flight Attendants is calling on legislators to change.

‘If you interfere with a crew member’s duties and put the rest of the plane in jeopardy, or assault the crew member, you’re facing $35,000 in fines for each incident and up to 20 years in prison,’ AFA President Sara Nelson told CNN. ‘People need to understand there are severe consequences here.’

House Transportation Chairman Peter DeFazio agreed that prison sentences should be handed down to offenders, saying, ‘The first time we take one of these jerks who is assaulting flight attendants or attempting to take an aircraft down, and they go away for a few years and they get a massive fine… I think that will send a message.’

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Hannah Smith

Hannah Smith is a London-based journalist at UNILAD. After studying History at UCL she worked for print publications on both sides of the pond, including spells at Harper's Magazine and The Times, before graduating with an MA in Newspaper Journalism from City, University of London.

Topics: News


  1. CNN

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