The chief of the Federal Aviation Administration signed a Wednesday order directing the agency to take a “zero tolerance approach” to disruptive airline customers.
Steve Dickson told Reuters that those who engage in disorderly conduct while on a flight may be subject to up to $35,000 fines and possible jail time.
“We will no longer adjudicate certain of these unruly passenger cases with counseling or warnings. We’re going to go straight to enforcement,” he said. “We’ve seen a disturbing increase in these incidents. … We’ll take the strongest possible enforcement action against any passenger who engages in it.”
Dickson added that cases may be referred to the Department of Justice for criminal prosecution.
Reports of disturbances at airports and on flights have been widespread following last week’s siege of the Capitol.
In video of an American Airlines flight from Washington, D.C., to Arizona, a pilot can be heard announcing, “This is the way it’s gonna be. It’s a four and a half hour flight out to Phoenix. We’ll put this plane down in the middle of Kansas and dump people off — I don’t care. … We will do that if that’s what it takes. So behave, please.”
Amanda Head of the Hollywood Conservative posted the video, claiming the announcement was in response to chants of “fight for Trump” and “USA.”
“First strike and you’re out. We applaud FAA Administrator Dickson for taking this clear stand for our safety and security,” said Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants, in a statement. “This will help serve as a deterrent to unruly passengers who had been bucking the rules of aviation safety.”
Lawmakers on Capitol Hill have called for the rioters to be banned from jet setting home or anywhere else in the near future. During a Tuesday news conference, FBI Washington Field Office Assistant Director in Charge Steven D’Antuono said the addition of suspects to a no-fly list was not being ruled out.