NewsLocal News


Woman flying to Aspen who allegedly verbally, physically assaulted attendant faces $23K fine from FAA

American Airlines Results
Posted at 5:41 AM, Nov 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-11 16:57:12-05

The Federal Aviation Administration has proposed $201,287 in civil penalties against 10 airline passengers, including a woman flying to Aspen who allegedly assaulted a flight attendant after her seat wouldn't recline.

The FAA released the 10 new cases on Wednesday.

It included an incident from March 11, 2021, when a woman became unruly while flying American Airlines from Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, to Aspen, Colorado. The FAA has not named the woman.

According to the FAA, the woman verbally abused flight attendants after she realized her seat wouldn't recline. Despite several passengers offering to switch with her, she declined and continued to yell at the attendants. At one point, she agreed to switch with a person, but continued to verbally abuse the attendants, according to the FAA.

"She then struck a flight attendant on the right forearm, and attempted to do so again. Further, she repeatedly refused to comply with the facemask policy," the FAA wrote.

The FAA said law enforcement met the woman at the arrival gate.

The FAA has proposed a $23,000 fine. She, along with the individuals in the other cases, has 30 days to respond.

Since Jan. 1, 2021, the FAA has received more than 100 reports of passengers causing a disturbance involving physical assault. Flight crews and other passengers are protected by federal law from assaults from other individuals. Because the FAA does not have criminal prosecutorial authority, it refers its cases to the U.S. Department of Justice.

The FAA said since it launched its Zero Tolerance campaign, which directed stricter legal enforcement against unruly passengers, the rate of problems like these has dropped. However, the FAA says it remains too high.

The other nine cases named Wednesday are below, as written by the FAA:

  1. $32,000 against a passenger on a May 18, 2021, Horizon Air flight from Austin, Texas, to San Francisco, Calif. The FAA alleges the passenger did not follow crew instruction to fasten her seatbelt. She punched and screamed at her husband and son, repeatedly, diverting flight attendants from their duties. She threw trash at a flight attendant, and snatched cookies from a nearby passenger.
  2. $20,000 against a passenger on a Jan. 4, 2021, Delta Air Lines flight from New York, N.Y., to Los Angeles, Calif. The FAA alleges the passenger yelled orders at multiple flight attendants while the plane taxied from the gate. He removed his seatbelt, left his seat while the fastened seatbelt sign was on, and refused to return to his seat after a flight attendant instructed him to do so. He threatened a flight attendant by saying he was going to “[expletive] up his a**.” While moving up and down the aisle during taxiing, he made physical contact with a flight attendant, and continued yelling profanities. The flight returned to the gate and law enforcement officers were forced to board the flight to remove the man.
  3. $26,787 against a passenger on a May 5, 2021, Southwest Airlines flight from New York City to Chicago, Ill. The FAA alleges that during final descent and despite crew instruction to remain seated, he left his seat and attempted to enter the cockpit. Flight attendants did not consider his actions to be aggressive but determined he needed additional observation. After he returned to his seat, he incorrectly thought the aircraft was already at the gate and attempted to remove his luggage from the overhead bin. Flight attendants coaxed him to the back of the aircraft and sat him on the floor to ensure he remained seated during landing. While the aircraft braked during touch down, flight attendants attempted to hold him down to keep him from injuring himself. He began punching one of the flight attendants. The flight attendant required medical attention. Law enforcement met the passenger at the arrival gate.
  4. $25,000 against a passenger on a Feb. 3, 2021, Southwest Airlines flight from Boston, Mass., to Chicago Ill. The FAA alleges the passenger refused crew instruction to stow her carry-on luggage in the overhead bin. Crew instructed her to exit the aircraft and speak with ground station personnel. Ground station personnel informed her that she could not continue with the flight. She re-boarded the aircraft to collect her carry-on luggage. Instead, she sat in a seat, held onto the armrest, shouted loudly and aggressively, and used derogatory language and obscene gestures towards the crewmember. As she disembarked, she broke loose from a travel companion’s grip and spat on a crewmember. Police met her at the gate.
  5. $24,000 against a passenger on a Jan. 21, 2021, American Airlines flight from Tampa, Fla., to Miami, Fla. The FAA alleges that the passenger failed to follow crew instruction to wear her facemask during boarding. The passenger and her travel companions were disruptive while the aircraft stayed at the gate due to a minor mechanical issue. Several passengers requested a seat reassignment to avoid the group. A flight attendant asked her to wear her facemask but she removed it as the flight attendant walked away. The captain requested to remove her from the aircraft. On her way off the plane, she physically assaulted the flight attendant by shoving her in the chest.
  6. $24,000 against a passenger on a March 28, 2021, Southwest Airlines flight from New Orleans, La., to Baltimore, Md. The FAA alleges that a flight attendant instructed her to comply with the facemask policy. As the flight attendant continued trash pick-up, she intentionally elbowed him in the side and kicked him. This behavior was reported to the captain who locked down the cockpit and requested law enforcement to meet the woman at the gate.
  7. $24,000 against a passenger on a Dec. 27, 2020, Delta Air Lines flight from Detroit, Mich., to Salt Lake City, Utah. The FAA alleges she refused to follow crew instruction to wear her mask, threatened crewmembers, cursed at crewmembers and shoved a crewmember.
  8. $17,500 against a passenger on a Nov. 7, 2020, jetBlue Airlines flight from Newark, N.J., to Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The FAA alleges the passenger used profane language and physically assaulted a flight crewmember. The man yelled at the crewmember to “get his fat a** out of my face,” and then pushed him. The captain diverted the flight to Richmond, Va. Police met the passenger at the gate.
  9. $9,000 against a passenger on a March 20, 2021, American Airlines flight from Cancun, Mexico, to Indianapolis, Ind. As the flight descended, he stomped and/or kicked the feet of the passenger seated behind him. The captain asked police to meet the flight at the arrival gate.