Biden Justice Department warns unruly airline passengers

Although the FAA instituted a zero-tolerance policy against mask disrespect and other bad behavior and imposed a record number of fines, flight crew unions have complained about the delay in prosecutions at the Ministry of Justice and urged the administration to do more to penalize the behavior.

Earlier this month, the FAA referred 37 cases of egregious traveler behavior to the DOJ, noting it believed all met the standard for potential criminal prosecution. An FAA spokesperson said on Wednesday he had not forwarded any other cases since.

“The unacceptable disruptive behavior that we are seeing is a serious threat to flight safety, and we are committed to our partnership with the DOJ to combat it,” said FAA Administrator Steve Dickson.

Background: The FAA and DOJ have established an information-sharing protocol for the FAA to refer unruly passenger cases to the FBI for criminal case review. The increased coordination is the result of a joint meeting in August where agencies discussed a better method of forwarding the most serious cases to potential criminal prosecution.

Passengers are not only subject to criminal prosecution, the FAA can also propose civil penalties of up to $ 37,000 per violation. In a recent case, the FAA suggested a fine totaling more than $ 40,000 for a man charged with drinking, smoking marijuana and sexually assaulting a Southwest Airlines flight in April.

According to the FAA latest statistics, there have been 5,338 unruly passenger incidents reported this year, of which 3,856 were mask-related. The agency opened 1,012 investigations and took action in 266 cases.

The DOJ previously said it had charged 25 people with interference with flight crew members over the past 13 months, but earlier this month a spokesperson could not clarify how many of those cases were prosecuted.

Calls for no-fly list: Aside from the lawsuits, leaders of the flight crew and transport workers unions have repeatedly insisted on the creation of a database that would incorporate lists of people who have been banned from flying with individual airlines. . The The idea has the backing of House of Transport Speaker Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), Who has suggested a “common database” where airlines can share banned passenger lists with each other. However, there has not yet been a movement to institute such a thing.

And after: Garland further urged attorneys to communicate “to relevant federal, state, local, tribal and territorial prosecuting authorities and law enforcement agencies” – including airport law enforcement – within of their districts that these cases should be given the highest priority. “Contact with the appropriate agency or agencies should be established as soon as possible within the next 20 days,” Garland said.

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