After a series of incidents involving unruly passengers causing flight delays and safety concerns, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation Wednesday to stiffen penalties for people who intentionally engage in disruptive behavior on an airplane.
Since the Department of Transportation began tracking the number of airline reports of passengers being unruly in flight, the number has risen dramatically. In 1993, the amount of such reports was fewer than 100. In 2012, the number had more than doubled to over 200. In the past few years, according to a report obtained by USA Today, the number of incidents has steadily risen from 199 in 2010 to 206 in 2011 to 230 in 2012.
For every person who’s flown on United Airlines, there are times when you’ve probably wondered why the airline responds to unruly passengers by giving them a $1,000,000 fine or a five-year ban from flying. United’s latest policy appears to be a little different than what most passengers are used to.
Airline and industry representatives are calling on U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland to maximize penalties for unruly passengers as the number of incidents on planes spirals out of control.
In less than six months, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has already received nearly 3,100 reports of unruly passengers, ranging from arguments to physical altercations – including one case where a flight attendant had two teeth knocked out.
The FAA has increased the amount of fines it imposes on these passengers, but the airlines and their unions believe this is not enough. They are asking Mr Garland to prosecute the most egregious cases of unruly passenger behaviour, according to sister publication Travel Weekly.
Specifically, the federal government must send a strong and consistent message through criminal enforcement that compliance with federal laws and aviation safety are paramount, a group of six unions and four trade associations wrote in a letter to Garland on May 21. June.
Unruly passenger behavior or interference with flight attendants is in violation of federal law.
It’s getting out of hand, Paul Hartshorn, a spokesman for the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, which represents more than 20,000 American Airlines crew members, told CNBC. It has reached the point where we must defend ourselves.
The letter was signed by trade groups Airlines for America, which represents the largest U.S. airlines, the Association of Regional Airlines and the National Air Carriers Association, which represents ultra-low-cost carriers.
The unions that signed the agreement are the Air Line Pilots Association, the Allied Pilots Association, the Flight Attendants Association-CWA, the Professional Flight Attendants Association, the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association and the Transportation Workers Union of America. The coalition of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, which represents the interests of flight attendants’ unions, is another signatory.
Even though there is no physical confrontation, just constant bickering, cursing and disrespect…. People are exhausted, says Sarah Nelson, international president of the Flight Attendants Association-CWA, the largest union for flight attendants, with about 50,000 members.
Senator Jack Reed (D-Rhode Island) plans to introduce a bill by the end of the month that would address mistreatment by passengers on planes and TSA employees, his spokesman Chip Unruh told CNBC.Although many airline passengers consider themselves to be law-abiding citizens, an increasing number of people are being detained and fined when they act out on the airplane. The trend of co-existing with the comfort and convenience of airline travel does not appear to be growing, so the airline industry is looking for ways to raise the standards of customer service and keep them in check.. Read more about unruly passenger laws and let us know what you think.
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