LOS ANGELES - Two airline passengers are facing separate fines totaling nearly $20,000 for unruly behavior after the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said they caused major flight disruptions.
One incident involved a passenger of a JetBlue flight on Dec. 27, 2020. The passenger was leaving Ft. Lauderdale International Airport bound for Los Angeles, but was allegedly abusive to airline workers who told him to wear a face mask.
"At one point, while not wearing a mask, he coughed and blew his nose into a blanket," the FAA alleged.
The agency said the passenger’s behavior was so disruptive that it "diverted flight crewmembers from their duties."
That passenger is facing a fine of $10,500.
A separate incident on March 16 involved another JetBlue Airlines customer flying from Los Angeles to Newark Liberty International Airport.
The passenger allegedly acted in a disruptive manner when boarding the flight, according to the FAA.
"He yelled, slammed overhead bins, and shouted profanities at the cabin crew, including threatening to harass a flight attendant during the entire flight," the FAA wrote in a press release.
The FAA also alleged that the passenger yelled profanities at the flight’s captain.
That passenger is facing a $9,000 fine.
"Federal law prohibits interfering with aircraft crew or physically assaulting or threatening to physically assault aircraft crew or anyone else on an aircraft," the FAA says.
The passengers have 30 days after receiving the FAA’s enforcement letter to respond to the agency.
The FAA recently extended its zero-tolerance policy toward passengers who cause disturbances on flights or fail to obey flight crew instructions in violation of the agency’s regulations.
"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 agency said in its May 10 press release.
Meanwhile, airlines have reported hundreds of cases involving unruly passengers since late December — most of which started with passengers refusing to wear a face mask. The FAA said it is reviewing more than 450 of the cases and has opened 20 formal enforcement cases as of March 19, according to the Associated Press.
In March, two passengers were met with tens of thousands of dollars in fines for allegedly interfering with — and in one case assaulting — flight attendants who instructed them to wear face masks.
A female passenger failed multiple times to comply with flight attendants’ instructions to wear a face mask and remain seated with her seatbelt fastened on a JetBlue Airlines flight from Boston to Puerto Rico on Dec. 27, the FAA alleged.
"The passenger shoved a flight attendant multiple times in her chest/shoulder area, shouted obscenities at the flight attendant, and threatened to have her fired. As a result of the passenger’s behavior, the captain diverted the flight back to Boston," the FAA wrote. She faces a fine of $20,000.
This story was reported in Los Angeles. Stephanie Weaver contributed.