“The number of cases we are seeing is still too high and indicates that urgent action needs to be taken,” FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said.
The TSA said it examined 1,344,128 people at airports on Sunday, meaning it had flown 5.2 million since Thursday. On Friday, 1,357,111 passengers were projected, the highest figure in a single day since March 15, 2020.
While the increase in travel is good news for the struggling airline industry, the rise in passengers could mean an increase in in-flight incidents.
Dickson, of the FAA, said he has instructed agency officials to consider both civil fines and criminal charges for reports of unruly passengers.
“I have decided to extend the FAA’s zero tolerance policy for unruly passengers as we continue to do our best to deal with the pandemic,” it said in a statement. “The policy instructs our security inspectors and attorneys to take strong enforcement action against any passenger who disrupts or threatens the security of a flight, with penalties ranging from fines to jail time.”
The intensive application was due to expire at the end of the month, but will now remain in force until the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lifts its order requiring the use of facial masks in mass and commercial modes of transport.
FAA reviewing more than 450 reports of unruly passengers
The FAA is currently reviewing more than 450 cases and has begun taking action against unruly passengers in 20 cases, he said.
At least four fines have been imposed on passengers under the stricter enforcement policy, the largest at $ 27,500.
The agency said fined people can respond to the agency and has not released the final amount those people paid.
Passengers who have so far been fined are accused of, in addition to not wearing masks, assaulting flight attendants, shouting obscenities and drinking unapproved alcohol on planes.
Although the FAA has not disclosed how many cases it pursues against passengers, the agency said about a month ago that, in all modes of transportation, it had received reports of “less than 1,000 passengers … who refused to carry a facial mask “.
The president of a major union of flight attendants who had called for the extension of the policy called it a “major deterrent.”
“The mosaic, the politically biased discussion around masks, has created confusion and conflict,” said Sara Nelson of the Vol-CWA Assistants Association. “We don’t have time to break the federal mask mandate. On a plane, this behavior puts everyone at risk and we can’t stand it.”
FAA sanctions are independent of those that the TSA can issue under a set of safety directives.
CNN’s Pete Muntean contributed to this report.
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