WARWICK, RI (WPRI) – Senator Jack Reed joined flight attendants and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officials at TF Airport on Thursday to discuss efforts to keep air travel safe.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has received about 2,500 reports of unruly passenger behavior since the start of the year, more than 20 times the number of incidents typically reported to the agency throughout the year.
Of the approximately 2,500 reports of in-flight violence, the FAA says about 1,900 reports involve passengers refusing to comply with the federal mandate for face masks.
Until further notice, travelers are still mandatory to wear a mask on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation to, inside or outside the United States, and in American transportation hubs such as airports and train stations.
Amid the rise in in-flight incidents involving disruptive passengers, Reed says more needs to be done to ensure the safety of airline passengers and their crews, especially with more people expected to travel this summer.
As of Friday, the TSA recorded more than 1.95 million people passing security checkpoints at U.S. airports, the busiest day of air travel since the pandemic began last year. The high number of travelers last week compares to just 353,261 people who passed through US airports last year.
Recently, American Airlines and Southwest Airlines announced temporary plans to postpone alcohol sales on board flights.
Reed, a senior member of the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Credit and Related Agencies (THUD) subcommittee, says more comprehensive action is needed, including continued bad behavior on board flights in all the measure of the law.
A press release from Reed’s office says the senator is also exploring a range of federal efforts to toughen penalties for those convicted of violently assaulting a crew member.
According to the FAA, federal law prohibits interfering with the aircraft crew, physically assaulting, or threatening to physically assault the aircraft crew or any other person on board an aircraft. Passengers are subject to civil penalties for this kind of misconduct, although federal law provides for criminal fines and jail terms for passengers who interfere with the performance of a crew member’s duties by assaulting or by intimidating that crew member.
The FAA strictly enforces a zero tolerance policy towards passengers who disrupt flights or do not obey flight crew instructions in violation of FAA regulations or engage in conduct prohibited by federal law.
Last week, the FAA proposed civil sanctions ranging from $ 9,000 to $ 15,000 against five airline passengers for “allegedly interfering with and in two cases assaulting flight attendants who asked them to obey cabin crew instructions and various federal regulations.”