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FAA announces harsher penalties for unruly passengers

The new policy comes after multiple issues with passengers on flights out of Washington D.C. following the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

The Federal Aviation Commission has called for harsher penalties for unruly passengers after multiple reports of issues with people returning home from the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol last week.

According to a Wednesday announcement from the FAA, the organization has seen an increase in violent behavior from passengers, which it attributes to both people returning home from the Washington D.C. riots and a refusal to comply with mask-wearing policies.

The FAA has historically approached unruly passenger incidents with a variety of tactics, including warnings, counseling and civil penalties. But an order signed by FAA Administrator Steve Dickson calls for legal action against any passenger who “assaults, threatens, intimidates, or interferes with airline crew members.”

“Flying is the safest mode of transportation and I signed this order to keep it that way,” Dickson said in a statement.

Passengers who assault, threaten or interfere with flight crew or anyone else on the plane will face up to a $35,000 fine and imprisonment. The new policy is effective through March 30.

Following the violent demonstrations at the Capitol last week, multiple reports surfaced of problems with passengers on flights out of Washington D.C. According to a Reuters report, multiple passengers on an Alaska Airlines flight “were non-mask compliant, rowdy, argumentative and harassed our crew members.”

On a Friday flight from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport to Minneapolis, Delta airlines was forced to remove two “unruly” passengers, according to USA Today.

An international labor union representing around 50,000 flight attendants also called on airlines not to board those that had taken part in the insurrection, according to CNN Travel. 

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