FAA Hands Out Largest Fine Ever for Bad Behavior on Board Planes

The Federal Aviation Administration has fined a pair of unruly passengers more than $159,000 — the largest-ever penalties for bad behavior on a flight.

The administration proposed a fine of $81,950 against one passenger and $77,272 against another with each incident involving violent passengers last year who had to be physically restrained.

In the first incident on July 7, a passenger was fined more than $81,000 after she allegedly pushed and threatened to hurt a flight attendant on an American Airlines flight from Dallas-Fort Worth to Charlotte when the crew member tried to help her following a fall into the aisle. The passenger is then accused of trying to open the cabin door and hitting a flight attendant on the head before being restrained in flex cuffs.

In the second incident, a passenger on a July 16 Delta Air Lines flight from Las Vegas to Atlanta was physically restrained by crew after she allegedly tried to hug and kiss the passenger next to her, walked to the front of the aircraft to try and get off during the flight, refused to return to her seat, and bit another passenger multiple times.

The passenger then allegedly spit, bit, and tried to kick the crew and her fellow passengers. She was apprehended by law enforcement officials upon landing in Charlotte.

Interior of a full airplane
Interior of a full airplane

Witthaya Prasongsin/Getty Images

In total, the FAA has handed out about $2 million in fines for bad behavior since adopting a zero tolerance policy in January 2021. But reports of unruly passengers have gotten so bad, a bill was introduced in Congress to create a no-fly list for passengers who are convicted of assaulting flight crew, according to Rep. Eric Swalwell, a co-sponsor of the legislation.

The Transportation Security Administration has also taken a stance against bad behavior, vowing to rescind membership from its TSA PreCheck program from anyone fined by the FAA.

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.