The Federal Aviation Administration fined a Southwest Airlines passenger $40,000 for drinking his own alcohol on a flight, sexually assaulting a flight attendant and then smoking marijuana in the lavatory.
The whopping sum was the highest of eight fines totaling $161,823 that was levied by the FAA against passengers for ‘unruly behavior involving alcohol,’ the agency announced Monday, adding it has received nearly 300 reports of passenger disturbances due to alcohol this year.
In August, the FAA told airport bars they should monitor alcohol intake and prevent giving customers to-go cups filled with booze before they boarded their flights because of the skyrocketing cases of unlawful behavior this year.
Through November 1, there have been 5,033 reports of unruly passenger incidents, including 3,642 related to pandemic face covering regulations.
The FAA said in April they issued a $40,823 fine against an unidentified passenger on a Southwest Airlines flight traveling from San Jose to San Diego
In August, the FAA told airports they should monitor alcohol intake following an increase in bad behavior among passengers in 2021
The fine for $40,823 was issued in April against an unidentified passenger on a Southwest Airlines flight from San Jose to San Diego.
During the flight, the passenger drank his own alcohol, which is prohibited, and then sexually assaulted a flight attendant after she told him to stop drinking, FAA officials said.
He was then caught smoking marijuana before the flight landed.
Flight crew called law enforcement and the passenger was arrested for resisting arrest and public intoxication, the FAA said in a statement.
FAA chief Steve Dickson expressed his concerns about serving alcohol to passengers in airport restaurants and bars before a flight
Also among the recent alcohol-related cases was a JetBlue Airlines passenger who was fined $17,000 for drinking booze the airline did not serve him, urinating on the lavatory floor, verbally abusing flight crew and refusing to follow crew instructions to wear a face mask on an April flight from New York City to Guayaquil, Ecuador.
In January, the FAA levied a $16,000 fine against a Delta Airlines passenger on a flight from San Francisco to Georgia who was told on two occasions she could not drink her own mini bottles of alcohol but proceeded to finish the bottle in front of the flight attendant, pull her mask down and demand the flight attendants information while filming her, causing the flight to be diverted to Las Vegas where she was met with law enforcement at the gate.
The agency, which does not have the power to prosecute, said it is working with the FBI and Department of Justice to refer cases as appropriate.
Fined passengers have 30 days after receiving the FAA’s enforcement letter to respond to the agency.
The FAA did not identify any of the eight passengers that were fined.
Over the summer, FAA chief Steve Dickson sent a letter to airport managers expressing his concerns about serving alcohol to passengers in restaurants and bars before a flight and asked that airports prevent passengers from bringing ‘to go’ cups of alcohol onto flights.
A spate of of violent incidences – with many involving feuds over the federally imposed mask mandates – either between passengers or flight attendants since the start of the pandemic has pushed the FAA to implement a ‘zero tolerance’ in January.
Earlier this month an FAA spokesperson said that unruly airline passengers in at least 37 incidents could be charged with assault for attacking crew members or other fliers after the agency referred the incidents to the FBI for possible prosecution.
An FAA spokesman said the agency has initiated 227 enforcement cases and referred 37 to the FBI for review. The agency did not identify any individuals.
On Oct. 8, President Joe Biden said he instructed the Justice Department to ‘deal’ with the rising number of violent incidents onboard planes.
FBI Acting Assistant Director Jay Greenberg said the agency is ‘working in tandem with our partners to ensure the safety of all passengers and investigate crimes within our jurisdiction aboard commercial flights.’