Plane passenger facing hefty fine over assault of flight attendant

Passengers in the airplane

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is proposing a US$27,500 ($35,107) penalty against an airline passenger for allegedly interfering with and assaulting a flight attendant.

The FAA alleges that on a Delta Air Lines flight from Miami, Florida to Atlanta, Georgia in October last year, the passenger was travelling with and sitting next to another passenger who refused to wear his mask, secure his seat tray table and fasten his seatbelt.

The flight returned to the gate as a result of the passenger’s refusal to follow the flight attendant’s instructions.

When the aircraft returned to the gate, flight attendants asked the two passengers to voluntarily get off the plane.

In response, the FAA claims the passenger accompanying the non-compliant traveller ignored the flight attendant’s instructions, began yelling expletives at the flight attendant and other passengers, and struck the flight attendant under her left eye.

“Federal law prohibits interfering with aircraft crew or physically assaulting or threatening to physically assault aircraft crew or anyone else on an aircraft,” the agency said in a statement.

“Passengers are subject to civil penalties for such misconduct, which can threaten the safety of the flight by disrupting or distracting cabin crew from their safety duties.

“Additionally, federal law provides for criminal fines and imprisonment of passengers who interfere with the performance of a crew member’s duties by assaulting or intimidating that crew member.

“The FAA is strictly enforcing a zero-tolerance policy toward passengers who cause disturbances on flights or fail to obey flight crew instructions in violation of the FAA’s regulations or engage in conduct proscribed by federal law.”

The passenger at the centre of the alleged assault has 30 days after receiving the FAA’s enforcement letter to respond to the agency. The FAA said it does not identify individuals against whom it proposes civil penalties.

Travel Weekly has approached Delta Air Lines for comment.


Featured image source: iStock/Mutlu Kurtbas

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