In an effort to curb an increase in out of control airline passengers, the FAA announced Monday it is seeking to fine two passengers a total of $20,000 for two separate incidents in 2020.
According to the agency’s statement, the first incident took place on a JetBlue Airlines flight from Fort Lauderdale to Los Angeles Dec. 27, in which a unnamed passenger refused to wear a face mask, reportedly abused the crew and spread droplets during a pandemic.
“At one point, while not wearing a mask, he coughed and blew his nose into a blanket,” said the statement announcing the penalties.
During a scan of myriad stories about local mile-high tantrums, we found one that occurred on this very day under very similar circumstances. It involved rapper Lil Pump, whom JetBlue banned for life after he created a disturbance over face masks onboard a FLL to LAX flight.
JetBlue spokesman Derek Dombrowski told the Miami Herald at the time that the “customer became verbally abusive with crewmembers after being asked multiple times and refusing to comply with JetBlue’s face covering policy.” He failed to mention the details of the entertainer’s misbehavior, but TMZ said that Pump was sneezing and coughing unmasked “perhaps on purpose” into a blanket.
According to the Broward Sheriff’s Office, the incident happened mid-flight and law enforcement met the flight at LAX. Pump was not arrested nor charged in the incident, but the “Gucci Gang” singer born Gazzy Garcia may have to fork over some cash now. The passenger in this case is being asked to pay $10,500 in penalties.
“Federal law prohibits interfering with aircraft crew or physically assaulting or threatening to physically assault aircraft crew or anyone else on an aircraft,” the FAA statement said. “Passengers are subject to civil penalties for such misconduct, which can threaten the safety of the flight by disrupting or distracting cabin crew from their safety duties. Additionally, federal law provides for criminal fines and imprisonment of passengers who interfere with the performance of a crewmember’s duties by assaulting or intimidating that crewmember.”
The FAA also fined a different JetBlue passenger $9,000 for a tantrum aboard a March 16 flight from Los Angeles to Newark Liberty International Airport. But because that meltdown did not have a Florida connection, we are not going to speculate.
Nearly 1,300 cases of unruly passengers have been reported to the FAA since February, marking a large increase from pre-pandemic years.
The passengers have 30 days after receiving the FAA’s enforcement letter to respond.
An FAA spokeswoman told the Miami Herald Friday that the agency does not reveal names.