Federal Aviation Administration Announces Stiffer Penalties for Unruly Conduct Aboard Aircraft

Press Release

ORLANDO, FL. — In response to an observed proliferation of disruptive conduct aboard aircraft, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has amended its Compliance and Enforcement Program to provide harsher sanctions for offenders. The FAA reports the negative behavior ranges from failure to comply with mask regulations to aggressive conduct stemming from the violence at the U.S. Capitol.

The FAA announced its special emphasis enforcement program will more effectively address and deter unacceptable behavior from passengers. The program imposes civil penalties on passengers aboard U.S.-registered aircraft, who assault, threaten, intimidate or interfere with a crewmember in the performance of their duties. Offenses include:

  • Interference with a crewmember
  • Physical assault or threatening physical assault on a flight or cabin crewmember
  • Physical or threatened assault on individuals other than crewmembers
  • Sexual assault or threatened sexual assault
  • Acting in a manner that poses imminent threat to the safety of the aircraft

Depending on the severity of the offense, fines are categorized on a low, medium, high and maximum scale. Amounts range from as low as $1,000 to as high as $35,000. The special emphasis enforcement program does not restrict the use of other types of actions available to the FAA, nor does it limit the possibility of criminal sanctions. The fines are levied by the FAA or other federal agencies.

The amended program became effective on January 13, 2021 and runs through March 30, 2021.

Below is a link to a video from FAA Administrator Steve Dickson about the zero-tolerance policy on unruly passengers: https://youtu.be/fFJZX39l-v4