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Unruly airline passenger incidents fall amid fines, but still high -U.S. FAA

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The rate of unruly airline passenger incidents has dropped sharply since regulators moved to impose fines in January but remains twice as high as last year, the Federal Aviation Administration said.

The incidents were occurring six times per 10,000 flights as of last week – a 50% drop from early 2021 when the agency moved to a “zero-tolerance policy” against fliers lashing out, it said in a statement.

“The trend of unruly passenger incidents is moving in the right direction. But we need the progress to continue. This remains a serious safety threat, and one incident is one too many,” FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said in a statement.

Dickson enacted the stiffer policy after supporters of former U.S. President Donald Trump were disruptive on some flights around the time of the deadly Jan. 6 attack at the U.S. Capitol.

Some fliers have also balked at a federal face-mask mandate imposed amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that has roiled the country since early 2020. Hundreds have been banned from some airlines for refusing to comply and some face $9,000 federal civil fines for defying mask requirements.

As of Sept. 21, there have been 4,385 reported unruly passenger incidents, including 3,199 mask-related ones, FAA data showed.

The agency has called on airlines to do more to address unruly passengers. U.S. lawmakers have also launched hearings into the issue, with some Democrats calling on the U.S. Department of Justice to prosecute disruptive and violent air passengers. 

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