The Federal Aviation Administration has proposed a $10,300 fine against an unruly passenger on a Feb. 3 flight from Boise, Idaho, to Los Angeles, it was announced Monday.
The passenger on the Alaska Airlines flight smoked an e-cigarette in the airplane lavatory, which activated the lavatory smoke detector system. According to the FAA, the passenger also walked through the cabin without his face mask over his mouth and nose, and repeatedly ignored flight attendants’ instructions to wear his mask properly.
The enforcement action is part of the FAA’s zero-tolerance policy for unruly and dangerous behavior by passengers. Since Jan. 1, the FAA has received about 3,000 reports of unruly behavior by passengers, including about 2,300 reports of passengers refusing to comply with the federal face mask mandate.
The FAA does not identify individuals against whom it proposes civil penalties.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Transportation reminded the traveling public on May 14 that mask are still required to be worn on planes, buses, trains and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within or out of the United States. Masks are also required in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations.
Federal law prohibits interfering with aircraft crew or physically assaulting or threatening to physically assault aircraft crew or anyone else on an aircraft. 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 crew member’s duties by assaulting or intimidating that crew member.
The FAA is strictly enforcing a zero-tolerance policy toward passengers who cause disturbances on flights or fail to obey flight crew instructions in violation of the FAA’s regulations or engage in conduct proscribed by federal law.
Passengers have 30 days after receiving the FAA’s enforcement letter to respond to the agency.