After more than a year of being in the house, people have obviously forgotten how to act. And the FAA fines for acting out on an airplane are getting crazier than ever.
In recent months, it’s felt like there’s a new news story about some passenger or another acting out on an aircraft. We recently spoke to psychologist Dr. Leo Flanagan, to get his expert opinion on the matter.
“The fact that as of July 21, 2021, the FAA has reported 3,509 incidents of airline passengers losing their minds on planes or being unruly is a direct result of our brain—specifically the amygdala and limbic system— performing as it is designed to in a tremendously abnormal situation,” he said.
The incidents are becoming so prevalent, in fact, that the BBC also decided to do some research into why people are acting like they have no home training when they board planes.
The BBC discovered that between January and June 2021, the FAA filed more than 3,100 incidents of violence on airplanes. In each case, the FAA issued hefty fines in an effort to deter further violence. And of the more than 3,100 incidents, 487 of them are currently being actively investigated — an exponential hike from the 142 incidents that have been investigated, on average, in the years before the pandemic.
“Most customers are crammed into tight spaces with complete strangers, where they have little control over what’s happening to them. Experts say this can lead to nervousness, negative feelings, and the kind of outbursts that are now well-documented online,” said the BBC. “Political polarization and mask mandates seem to have heightened tensions, too. But even deeper than that lie prickly issues of the pandemic’s mental-health legacy, and how it’s emerging in the unfriendly skies.”
While all of this is certainly true — and far be it from us to minimize anyone’s mental health disorders — airline crews aren’t here for the nonsense. And the FAA fines are beginning to match their disgust in this behavior. The federal agency recently issued a press release documenting the 30 most expensive airline incidents — and we decided to take a look at the 9 craziest fines imposed by the FAA for travelers.
Together, We Catch These Hands (Allegiant Air)
On January 21, 2021, the FAA issued a fine to a passenger who was flying Allegiant Air from Fort Lauderdale to Lexington, KY.
“The passenger allegedly physically and verbally assaulted other passengers, and shouted obscenities at the crew members after they moved her to a different seat,” said the FAA.
Total Fine: $16,700
A Culture of Face Mask Mandates and Idiocy (Republic Airlines)
A Republic Airlines passenger who was flying from Key West, FL to Charlotte, NC found out the hard way what it meant not to comply with face mask mandates. The agency hit him with the $17k fine on February 28, 2021, after “allegedly interfering with crew members after failing to comply with the facemask mandate; vaping on the aircraft, and drinking alcohol not served by the airline. Law enforcement met him at the gate.”
Total Fine: $17,000
Something Not-So-Special In The Air (American Airlines)
American Airlines has its problems, to be sure. But there was no need for a passenger to make it worse when he was flying from Miami to Nashville on February 11, 2021.
“Interfering with crew members after refusing to comply with the facemask mandate; ignoring the fastened seatbelt sign, and pushing a flight attendant into another passenger with his hip” firmly falls under “not necessary, fam, really not necessary.”
Total Fine: $19,000
Low Class Done Right (Frontier Airlines)
Ah, Florida — forever America’s punchline. Why is The Jerry Springer Show still on the air when Florida is still a part of the United States? In any event, Florida once again became a punchline on March 11, 2021, when a passenger traveling on Frontier Airlines from Orlando to Providence, RI, decided to live up to the “Florida Woman” hype.
This beauty was “repeatedly kicking the aircraft bulkhead; screaming obscenities at the passenger next to her; locking herself in the lavatory for 30 minutes; yelling obscenities at the flight attendant after they informed her through the lavatory door that the captain turned the fastened seatbelt sign on, and she must return to her seat; throwing corn nuts at passengers and shoving both her middle fingers in the flight attendant’s face when they instructed her to stop throwing the nuts. The passenger was issued a “red card” notice, and in response, she again put both her middle fingers in the flight attendant’s face. Law enforcement removed her from the flight upon arrival.”
Total Fine: $25,500
Not Quite Bringing Humanity Back To Air Travel (jetBlue Airways)
Whose cousin from Boston is this? On April 12, 2021, one of New England’s finest was on a JetBlue flight to Orlando when she began “interfering with crew members after refusing to comply with the facemask mandate. She also shouted obscenities at the flight crew, and intentionally bumped into a seated passenger on her way to the lavatory. When the seated passenger objected to this behavior, she punched the passenger in the face. Law enforcement met the aircraft at the gate.”
Total Fine: $29,000
A Frightening Experience (Frontier Airlines)
This one’s a really scary story — so scary, in fact, that it doesn’t merit a snarky headline. On January 3, 2021, a passenger on Frontier Airlines who was going from Atlanta to NYC began “interfering with the flight attendants’ deplaning procedures upon arrival. He attempted to gain entry to the flight deck by physically assaulting two flight attendants, threatening to kill one of them, and demanding them to open the door. The captain called for law enforcement to meet him after exiting.”
Total Fine: $30,000
Talk About An Over-Reaction (Southwest)
The next time you want to over-react, ask yourself if it’s really worth doing on an airplane.
If only the Southwest passenger flying from Orlando to Kansas City on January 2, 2021, took this advice into account. This guy lost his freedom because he began “assaulting passengers around him because someone in his row would not change seats to accommodate his travel partner. He told his travel partner he would need to bail him out of jail for the physically violent crimes he threatened to commit. The captain returned the flight to the gate, where law enforcement met the passenger. Southwest banned him from flying with the carrier in the future. The FAA does not put passengers on no-fly lists.”
Total Fine: $32,500
Say Hello To My Little Friend (jetBlue)
Far be it from us to tell you whether taking illicit drugs is a good idea (wouldn’t be us, but whatever), but whether you like the booger sugar or not, it’s really not a good idea to do it on an airplane.
Someone should have told the jetBlue passenger heading from New York to San Francisco on May 16, 2021, about this little policy. The flight never made it to its final destination, because he began “interfering with crew members after failing to comply with the facemask mandate; making non-consensual physical contact with another passenger; throwing a playing card at a passenger and threatening him with physical harm; making stabbing gestures towards certain passengers; and snorting what appeared to be cocaine from a plastic bag, which the cabin crew confiscated. The passenger became increasingly agitated, and the crew equipped themselves with flex cuffs and ice mallets to ensure the safety of the flight if his behavior worsened. The flight diverted to Minneapolis, Minn., where law enforcement removed the passenger from the aircraft.”
Total Fine: $42,000
Just Throw The Whole Flight Away (jetBlue)
On May 24, 2021, the flight from hell left New York’s JFK airport, heading towards Orlando, FL. The plane never made it to its final destination, because a passenger began “throwing objects, including his carry-on luggage, at other passengers; refusing to stay seated; lying on the floor in the aisle, refusing to get up, and then grabbing a flight attendant by the ankles and putting his head up her skirt. The passenger was placed in flexi-cuffs and the flight made an emergency landing in Richmond, Va.”
Jail is too nice for this guy.
Total Fine: $45,000