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FAA hits maskless, unruly passengers with hefty fines

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is planning to levy heavy fines against two unmasked passengers accused of assaulting flight attendants on different flights.

As CNN reported on Wednesday, one of the passengers is accused of assaulting two flight attendants during a flight in February and is facing a fine of $32,750. Another is accused of hitting an attendant with his bags and is facing a fine of $16,500.

The $32,750 fine was issued to a JetBlue Airways passenger who allegedly "grabbed a flight attendant's arm, causing her pain," and "struck the arm of another flight attendant twice and scratched his hand," CNN reports. The unnamed woman also threw bottles of alcohol and refused requests to wear a face mask.

The other passenger reportedly struck a Southwest Airlines flight attendant after being asked to put on a mask.

A spokesperson for the FAA told CNN that four fines were issued overall on Wednesday out of 1,300 reports of passenger misconduct that the agency had received in the past three months. The spokesperson noted that such incidents were once so rare that the FAA did not count them.

Previously, the FAA would get a single report every few days but CNN reports that the agency is now getting multiple reports daily. The outlet notes that this sharp rise in reported passenger misconduct comes as the amount of flyers is still below pre-pandemic levels. FAA Administrator Steve Dickson announced in January that he would be adopting a "zero-tolerance policy" towards bad behavior on flights. Instead of issuing warnings, Dickson said the FAA would be pursuing fines and jail time. In March, the FAA extended this policy.

“I have decided to extend the FAA’s unruly-passenger zero-tolerance policy as we continue to do everything we can to confront the pandemic,” Dickson said at the time.

“The policy directs our safety inspectors and attorneys to take strong enforcement action against any passenger who disrupts or threatens the safety of a flight, with penalties ranging from fines to jail time,” he added. “The number of cases we’re seeing is still far too high, and it tells us urgent action continues to be required.”

This article originally appeared on The Hill

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