The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) published new data on the pace and nature of unruly passenger incidents and the news was a bit surprising: they’ve gone down (finally!). It seems after this big change made earlier this year, in-flight passenger incidents have finally started to slow which is great news for the travel industry, flight crews and passengers.
The FAA announced the news via Twitter where they noted a 50% drop in unruly incidents. What caused this stunning reduction? According to the FAA it’s a direct result of their Zero Tolerance Campaign.
Unruly passenger incidents have seen a steep and dramatic increase during the pandemic era of travel. While passenger volume has decreased the number of incidents being investigated and recorded by the FAA has exponentially increased (see chart below).
The primary reason for this increase? In general, the FAA attributes a large percentage of these incidents to mask-related incidents. Nearly 73% to be precise.
After a deluge of in-flight incidents, the FAA and congress retrenched their efforts by implementing what they term the Zero Tolerance Campaign. A key feature of this campaign? Gigantic fines for violations. Indeed, as much as $37,000 fines can be levied against violations. The size of these fines, along with an increased marketing push through signage, announcements, and more seems to be working as occurrences are on the decline.
In 2021 alone, the FAA has reported over 4,000 incidents of unruly passengers with 73% of them being related to face masks. Of those, 789 investigations were initiated and 162 have turned into law enforcement matters. Moreover, many times passengers guilty of said incidents will be banned (for life) from the airline they were flying on during the incident.
As the FAA notes in the below video, the mask mandates remain in effect and the FAA is taking a zero-tolerance policy. This increased posture seems to be working. Thank goodness.