FAA issues warning video for disruptive passengers: 'Unruly behavior doesn’t fly'

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The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a strict video warning for disruptive passengers Tuesday saying that unruly behavior can distract pilots, ultimately posing a danger to the entire aircraft. 

The video "You Don’t Want Your Pilots Distracted: Unruly Behavior Doesn’t Fly" – which was first released to CNN – is the agency's latest attempt to put an end to the flood of violent and disruptive outbursts on airplanes, which can range from throwing luggage, threatening passengers, refusing to wear a face mask to hitting flight attendants in the face. 

In the roughly 30-second clip, the FAA uses recordings of flight crews warning officials of emergency situations in the cabin. 

In one recording you can overhear one person saying: "Unruly passenger, we need to get off the airplane." 


Another person in the recording replies: "Do you need authorities on the ground?"  

In the video description, the FAA reiterated that "it is not safe to disrupt a flight" and that the FAA has a zero-tolerance policy for not abiding by cabin crew instructions.  

The FAA's zerotolerance policy was adopted in January after the agency saw a "disturbing increase in incidents where airline passengers have disrupted flights with threatening or violent behavior," the FAA said.  

Travelers walk through in Salt Lake City International Airport, Tuesday, March 9, 2021, in Salt Lake City.  (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer / AP Newsroom)

Since then, the FAA has received approximately 3,889 reports of unruly behavior by passengers, 2,867 of which were cases where passengers refused to wear face masks.  

As recent as last week, the FAA proposed more than $531,000 in additional fines against 34 airline passengers who were allegedly exhibiting unruly behavior from throwing luggage, threatening passengers and even hitting flight attendants in the face. 


And even though the FAA continues to propose fines on unruly passengers, totaling over $1 million for 2021, the cases keep mounting.  

It has come to the point where the FAA has even issued a letter to airports, urging them to coordinate more closely with local law enforcement to prosecute the cases. While the FAA can propose fines against passengers, the agency can't prosecute criminal cases. 

"Every week, we see situations in which law enforcement was asked to meet an aircraft at the gate following an unruly passenger incident. In some cases, flight attendants have reported being physically assaulted," FAA Administrator Steve Dickson wrote. 

Dickson added, "Many of these passengers were interviewed by local police and released without criminal charges of any kind," 

As a result, "we miss a key opportunity to hold unruly passengers accountable for their unacceptable and dangerous behavior," he said. 


In the letter, Dickson also called on airports to prevent passengers from bringing "to-go" cups of alcohol aboard the aircraft, which "often contributes to this unsafe behavior." 

"Even though FAA regulations specifically prohibit the consumption of alcohol aboard an aircraft that is not served by the airline, we have received reports that some airport concessionaires have offered alcohol ‘to go,’ and passengers believe they can carry that alcohol onto their flights or they become inebriated during the boarding process," Dickson wrote.  

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