Accessibility links

Breaking News

FAA Refers 17 More Passengers to FBI for Prosecution

A Star Alliance plane takes off from Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark, N.J., on Feb. 27, 2023, with the lower Manhattan skyline in the background.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said Thursday it has referred 17 additional unruly airline passengers to the FBI for criminal prosecution.

The cases of unruly behavior include a widely reported incident in March in which a man attempted to open an aircraft emergency exit door during flight and used a makeshift weapon to assault a flight attendant.

The FAA reports that most of the cases involve assaults against flight attendants and other passengers, and they date from July 2022 to March 2023.

The agency has referred more than 250 of the most serious cases to the FBI since late 2021 under a partnership aimed at ensuring unruly airline passengers face criminal prosecution when warranted.

The FAA said the rate of unruly passenger incidents has dropped by more than 80% since a record number of cases in 2021 but unacceptable behavior continues to occur.

Acting FAA Administrator Billy Nolen said the referrals are indicative of the agency’s zero tolerance policy regarding unruly behavior.

“If you act out on a plane, you should just stay at home because we will come after you with serious consequences,” he said.

The agency said it can propose civil penalties against unruly passengers, including fines of up to $37,000 per violation.

Late last month, a bipartisan group of congressional lawmakers offered the legislation in response to some of the high-profile cases of unruly passengers in recent years. Known as the Protection from Abusive Passengers Act, it calls for, among other measures, creating a “no-fly” list for the worst offenders.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.