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February 14 2022 12:00 am

Unruly passengers down 50% this year so far

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Travelers are seen waiting at a security checkpoint at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in June, 2021. (Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images)

(KTVX) – Things are looking better for airlines in 2022, as far as dealing with unruly passengers is concerned.

Still, the Federal Aviation Administration says there is plenty of work to be done.

According to the FAA’s latest data released on Wednesday, 2022’s rate of unruly incidents (so far) has dropped approximately 50% from the record highs reached around this point in 2021. Since the beginning of the new year, the FAA received only 76 reports of unruly passengers, 43 of which have been “mask-related.” Of those reports, a single investigation with an enforcement action has been initiated, according to the figures.

In 2021, the FAA finished the year by counting 5,981 unruly reports with 4,290 of those being related to facial coverings, resulting in 1,081 investigations and 350 enforcement actions taken.

Flights en route into Salt Lake City International Airport saw a couple of noteworthy incidents in the record-breaking year. In November, a woman flying into Utah from Detroit was accused of refusing to don her mask, threatening and cursing at crewmembers, and even shoving one of them. She was fined $24,000 by the FAA.

Other ordeals in 2021 included a $9,000 fine to a passenger headed to Long Beach from Salt Lake City who refused to wear his mask, and another passenger from Las Vegas who became combative with crewmembers before placing his mask inside his mouth as opposed to covering the outside as he was mandated.

In the wake of the massive uptick in unruly passengers over the last year, the FAA produced a comprehensive awareness campaign that involved the use of several social memes, including one featuring an iconic movie exchange from Brad Pitt and Edward Norton’s characters in “Fight Club.”

As suggested by the green truck meme, fines for unruly passengers can get quite expensive, reaching a maximum of $37,000, an increase of the previous maximum of $25,000.

The FAA notes that interfering with the duties of a crewmember is a violation of federal law and could ultimately lead to criminal charges, in addition to a substantial fine.

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