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FAA makes zero-tolerance unruly passenger policy permanent

FAA makes zero-tolerance unruly passenger policy permanent
The Federal Aviation Administration announced Wednesday that it was making it zero-tolerance policy for unruly passengers permanent. Pool File Photo by Nir Elias/UPI | License Photo

April 21 (UPI) -- The Federal Aviation Administration said it will make its zero-tolerance policy against unruly airline passengers instituted amid the COVID-19 pandemic permanent.

The policy update was announced Wednesday, days after a federal judge struck down the Biden administration's mask mandate for travelers on airlines and public transportation.

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Following the order, several airports, airlines and ride-share services announced they'd no longer require the health measure with the Justice Department on Wednesday appealing the ruling.

The FAA instituted its zero-tolerance policy in January of last year amid spiking cases of unruly passengers assaulting airline employees. The policy instituted stricter penalties for such passengers who would have previously been served with warnings or civil penalties.

According to FAA data, there were nearly 6,000 unruly passenger reported last year with nearly 4,300 of them related to masks. So far this year, there has been more than 1,200 unruly passenger incidents with nearly 800 concerning face coverings.

"Behaving dangerously on a plane will cost you; that's a promise," acting FAA Administrator Billy Nolen said in a statement. "Unsafe behavior simply does not fly and keeping our Zero Tolerance policy will help us continue making progress to prevent and punish this behavior."

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In November, the FAA announced it was working with the Justice Department to bring charges against unruly passengers and as of Feb. 16 the FAA has sent 80 such cases to the FBI for criminal review.

Under the zero-tolerance policy, the FAA proposed $5 million in fines last year against unruly passengers.

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