Airline Industry Pushes for Tougher Penalties for “Air Rage” Incidents


Flight attendant serving drinks on flight. | Image from huettenhoelscher

Flight attendants, lawmakers, and the FAA are pushing for harsher penalties for passengers displaying aggressive and disruptive behavior as the number of incidents continues to increase.

As reported by WAND News, as of November 23, the FAA has received 5,338 reports of unruly passengers this year. Approximately 3,856 of those were mask-related.

Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA_CWA), expressed to the Washington Post that such incidents contribute to a “hostile work environment” for the profession. She also noted that the verbal assaults on airline attendants are becoming increasingly personal.

A recent study by the AFA-CWA found that 61% of airline attendants had been the targets of “racist, sexist, or homophobic language.”

Paul Hartshorn, Jr., a spokesperson for the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, stated, “We have been pushing anyone who will listen in Congress to prioritize and have swift consequences for those who would assault flight attendants onboard an aircraft.”

The US Attorney General Garland Merrick has called on the DOJ to prioritize the federal prosecution of “air rage” incidents.

The FAA is reportedly “leveling hundreds of thousands of dollars in civil penalties” against unruly passengers and has initiated 227 law enforcement cases, 37 of which were referred to the FBI for review.

In a group letter to Attorney General Merrick, airline industry workers proposed that the prosecution of unruly passengers should be done publicly as a deterrent to future incidents. Currently, the maximum criminal penalty under federal law for violently disrupting an airline flight is 20 years in jail.

“When they face jail time and they are aware of the consequences of assaulting someone at 35,000 feet, … hopefully, they’ll think twice before they do,” Hartshorn, Jr. told Fox 4 News.

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