(KTVX) – Things are looking better for airlines in 2022, as far as dealing with unruly passengers is concerned.
Still, the Federal Aviation Administration says there is plenty of work to be done.
According to FAA latest data released on Wednesday, 2022’s rate of unruly incidents (so far) has dropped approximately 50% from the record highs reached around this point in 2021. Since the beginning of the new year, the FAA received only 76 reports of unruly passengers, 43 of which have been “mask-related.” Of those reports, a single investigation with an enforcement action has been initiated, according to the figures.
In 2021, the FAA finished the year by counting 5,981 unruly reports with 4,290 of those being related to facial coverings, resulting in 1,081 investigations and 350 enforcement actions taken.
The most notable local incident came in late May 2021 when video captured a passenger throwing multiple punches at a flight attendant on a plane to the San Diego International Airport. The passenger, Vyvianna Quinonez, was arrested and charged for assault resulting in serious bodily injury and interference with flight crew members and attendants.
Quinonez pleaded guilty in December to a federal count of interfering with flight crew members and attendants. She now faces jail time, fines and a three-year commercial airline ban.
In the wake of the massive uptick in unruly passengers over the last year, the FAA produced a comprehensive awareness campaign that involved the use of several social memes, including one featuring an iconic movie exchange from Brad Pitt and Edward Norton’s characters in “Fight Club.”
As suggested by the green truck meme, fines for unruly passengers can get quite expensive, reaching a maximum of $37,000, an increase of the previous maximum of $25,000.
The FAA notes that interfering with the duties of a crewmember is a violation of federal law and could ultimately lead to criminal charges, in addition to a substantial fine.