FAA fines passenger $45K for throwing luggage as attendants flock to self-defense classes

Man putting luggage in overhead airplane compartment stock photo.
Photo credit Getty Images
By , 1080 KRLD

After throwing carry-on luggage, refusing to stay seated, lying on the aisle floor, grabbing a flight attendant by the ankles and putting his head up her skirt while on a flight, a man could face a $45,000 fine.

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According to a Thursday press release from the Federal Aviation Administration, the man was a passenger on a May 24 JetBlue flight from New York, N.Y. to Orlando, Fla., when he started behaving inappropriately.
He was placed in flexi-cuffs and the flight had to make an emergency landing in Richmond, Va.

His expected fine makes up just a small fraction of an overall $531,545 in civil penalties recently proposed against 34 airplane passengers by the FAA. So far this year, civil penalties for unruly behavior on flights totals more than $1 million, said the agency.

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Also included in the most recent round of proposed penalties are: a $42,000 fine for a man who appeared to snort cocaine and got into physical confrontations over the federal mask mandate on another JetBlue flight; a $32,500 fine for a man who threatened others for not changing seats with him on a Southwest Airlines flight; a $30,000 fine for a man who threatened to kill flight attendants on a Frontier Airlines flight and a $29,000 fine for a woman who punched another passenger on the face and got into other confrontations on a JetBlue flight.

Other passengers the FAA proposed fining yelled obscenities, vaped, drank alcohol not supplied by airlines, threw nuts, urinated on the floor, assaulted flight attendants, issued violent threats and refused to wear masks. Proposed fines ranged from $7,500 to $45,000.

Since Jan. 1, the FAA has reported 3,889 incidents of unruly behavior by passengers, including 2,867 reports of passengers refusing to comply with the federal mask mandate.

According to Business Insider, flight attendants from several major U.S. said they have experienced increased levels of aggression from passengers this year. Some reported having been punched, groped, spat at, and verbally abused by passengers for doing their jobs.

An ABC News report said that self-defense classes taught by air marshals for flight attendants are more popular than ever, with four times the amount of classes running than usual and double the participants.

“Federal law prohibits interfering with aircraft crew or physically assaulting or threatening to physically assault aircraft crew or anyone else on an aircraft,” said the FAA. “Passengers are subject to civil penalties for such misconduct, which can threaten the safety of the flight by disrupting or distracting cabin crew from their safety duties. Additionally, federal law provides for criminal fines and imprisonment of passengers who interfere with the performance of a crewmember’s duties by assaulting or intimidating that crewmember.”

The FAA does not identify passengers who are subject to civil penalties. When they receive their enforcement letter, passengers have 30 days to respond.

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Featured Image Photo Credit: Getty Images