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An expensive flight: American Airlines passenger fined almost $40,000 for being disruptive

The federal district court in Arizona ordered an American Airlines passenger to pay the carrier $38,952 after she pleaded guilty to interfering with a flight crew member.

According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s office in Arizona, Cayla Farris used profanity and threatened flight crew members while traveling from Phoenix to Hawaii on Feb. 13, 2022. Prosecutors say her behavior prevented flight attendants from carrying out their duties and the captain decided to return to Phoenix.

In addition to the fine, Farris was sentenced to time served of 3.6 months in prison and three years of supervised release. During the release period, she will not be able to fly on a commercial aircraft without prior authorization.

The government has been stepping up enforcement around air rage incidents in recent years after onboard acting out spiked earlier in the pandemic. There were almost 6,000 reported unruly passenger incidents in 2021, compared to about 1,100 in 2019. The number of cases has fallen in recent years but remains above pre-pandemic level. Federal Aviation Administration data shows there have been 1,820 unruly passenger reports so far in 2023.

Experts say airplanes can be petri dishes for bad behavior as travelers are crammed together and often stressed about getting where they need to be. Federal law requires passengers to obey crewmember instructions.

This article originally appeared on USA Today.

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