FAA to Local Police Departments: Arrest Unruly Passengers

By Kurt Stolz on 5 August 2021
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An American Airlines Boeing 737-800 taking off

The head of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration called on local police across the nation to file charges against unruly airline passengers more often.

The call to action came via letters to airport officials from FAA head Stephen Dickson.

Many in-flight incidents occur when a passenger refuses to don a face mask on board a flight.  A mask mandate has been in effect since shortly after the inauguration of President Joseph Biden earlier this year.

Dickson said in the letter that police are being asked to meet flights on a regular basis, following in-flight incidents involving passengers.  In some cases, a passenger has assaulted a flight attendant or other passengers.  He also said that airport concessions should limit alcohol sales to passengers.

“Many of these passengers were interviewed by local police and released without criminal charges of any kind,” Dickson said in the letters. “When this occurs, we miss a key opportunity to hold unruly passengers accountable for their unacceptable and dangerous behavior.”

Dickson underscored the fact that the FAA does not have the authority to file criminal charges against unruly passengers, although the agency has proposed civil fines against dozens of passengers in recent months.

In the same letters, the nation’s chief aviation regulator also asked airports to work with their concessionaires to limit alcohol-related incidents.  He said that some concessionaires sell drinks to go and added that passengers become intoxicated before a flight or try to carry their alcoholic beverages onto the aircraft and consume them on board.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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