Why US’s unruly air passenger incidents halved last week


Unruly air passenger incidents in America have hit their lowest level since 2020. Photo / Pexels

Unruly air passenger incidents in America have hit their lowest level since 2020 just one week after the government dropped the mask mandate on public transport.

The Federal Aviation Administration recorded 1.9 incidents per 10,000 flights during the week ending April 24. This is down from 4.4 a week earlier.

The mask mandate was dropped on April 18.

Since then, the US Transportation Security Administration has stopped enforcing the mandate and major US airlines have made face coverings optional on domestic flights.

FAA did not provide a reason for the drop.

Unruly air passenger incidents have been a topic of much contention after former FAA administrator Steve Dickson enforced a zero-tolerance policy in January. Instead of the usual warning letter or counseling, passengers immediately received hefty fines.

In April, FAA suggested two passengers be fined US$81,950 and US$77,272 respectively, for incidents on American Airlines and Delta Air Lines.

One passenger spat at, head-butted and bit a crew member and the other tried to kiss and hug a fellow passenger before reportedly attempting to exit the plane via the cabin during the flight.

Since January, the FAA clocked around 7,200 incidents of unruly passenger behavior. 70 percent of these were related to mask requirements.

“Behaving dangerously on a plane will cost you; that’s a promise,” said FAA’s acting administrator Billy Nolen, in a statement last month.

“Unsafe behavior simply does not fly and keeping our Zero Tolerance policy will help us continue making progress to prevent and punish this behavior.”

The decision to overturn the federal government’s nationwide mask mandate for public transport was controversial.

On May 3, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reissued their recommendation that people aged 2 and older wear masks while on public transport and at transportation hubs like airports or ferry terminals.


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