Sunday, December 5, 2021

FAA directs 37 air passengers to criminal liability

WASHINGTON (AP). The FAA says it has filed 37 cases involving unruly airline passengers with the FBI for possible prosecution since disruptions on flights began to skyrocket in January.

FAA and Justice Department officials said Thursday that over the past three months they have developed a procedure for the FAA to regularly submit cases to the FBI, which directs those deserving of prosecution to local offices for investigation.

They did not indicate how many of the 37 complaints were charged.

The FAA said the cases referred to the FBI are among the 227 cases this year that it initiated enforcement actions that could result in civil fines for passengers.

Airlines and their unions have demanded more aggressive action from the FAA to prosecute serious cases of aircraft rage.

Passenger violence drew renewed attention last week when the 20-year-old Californian was charged with punching an American Airlines flight attendant in the face and sending her to hospital for treatment. He faces two federal charges.

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This year, airlines have reported more than 5,000 incidents involving unruly passengers, with more than 3,600 of them involving people who refused to wear face masks as required by federal law.

The FAA said it launched 950 investigations of passenger behavior on flights this year. This is the highest since the agency began tracking in 1995. Over the five years from 2016 to 2020, the agency conducted an average of 136 investigations per year.

The flight attendants’ association is pushing for a new list of no-flyers who attack crew members or other passengers. Someone banned from one airline could potentially be banned for everyone.

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