Shocking flight attendants and mind-blowing fines for the Mayhem plane
- Airlines and federal regulators are working to contain a sudden increase in the number of unruly passengers on planes.
- The FAA received 3,420 reports of “unruly passengers” in 2021 and 3,000 weapons were seized at airports.
- Under the zero tolerance policy, fines are higher than ever, and some are pushing for federal prosecutions for the flight assaults.
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In undisclosed locations near airports across the country this month, flight attendants receive training in aggressive self-defense movements specifically designed for close quarters combat.
Flight attendants learn the double slap, peek, and groin kick. They learn tips for quickly disarming passengers with sharp weapons and how to use items readily available on board a plane to defend themselves.
The moves are designed to quickly defuse and overpower passengers because, in the words of former trainer Scott Armstrong, “you don’t want to get into a long, drawn-out fight.”
It is, as they say, not an exercise. As recently as last week, the training was put to good use when a female passenger on an American Airlines flight to North Carolina attacked and bit several flight attendants and attempted to open the door to the plane in flight.
Resourceful flight attendants grabbed a roll of duct tape, and the woman arrived at her destination submissive and tied tightly to her chair. It may not have been standard protocol, but it was effective and American Airlines later applauded its crew.
It’s not just your imagination; there really has been an extraordinary amount of chaos in the sky recently.
Last month, a flight attendant on a Delta flight to Los Angeles from Atlanta overpowered the flight attendants and took over the public address system. The passengers had to intervene to help him subdue him.
A video of a woman attacking a flight attendant from the southwest and breaking two of her teeth before another passenger stepped in to help has recently gone viral.
Annual flight attendant training, which the Transportation Security Authority (TSA) began in 2004 and interrupted due to Covid19, is resuming at a time of record reports of delays due to passenger misbehavior on commercial flights.
In a year that many travelers have stayed at home due to Covid-19, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said it received 3,420 reports of incidents of “unruly passengers” on planes as of July 13. . More than three-quarters of these incidents have been linked to passengers refusing to respect the federal mask mandate.
With five months remaining in the year, the average number of reports has already been exceeded by about three times, and the FAA has set up a new special task force to investigate.
More and more firearms are also being discovered during routine x-ray examinations of carry-on luggage, according to the TSA. As of mid-July, around 3,000 guns had been intercepted so far in 2021, and 85% of them were loaded, the TSA told Insider in an email.
—TSA_GreatLakes (@TSA_GreatLakes) June 3, 2021
Over the weekend of July 4, 70 guns were discovered at airport checkpoints. This month, six firearms were seized from airports in Oregon in a single 10-day period, an “astonishing” number, according to the TSA. Nationally, the TSA says we tend to double the annual average of gun seizures.
Flight attendants are on the front lines and say self-defense training is absolutely necessary.
Sarah Nelson, president of the International Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), believes training should be made mandatory. In a town hall posted on YouTube, she said flight attendants have become “punching bags” for the public and many have quit their jobs.
“This should send a message to the public that these events are serious and that the flight attendants are there to ensure the safety and security of everyone on the plane,” Nelson told reporters.
Nelson’s group says it received more than 5,000 responses to its unruly passenger information survey. According to an AFA spokesperson, more flight attendants than ever have asked for the union’s support and advice.
What can be done?
And yet, in the face of all this, the options available to airlines are limited.
There aren’t necessarily enough Federal Air Marshals – civil servants who dress in civilian clothes and are tasked with protecting themselves from the most extreme flight scenarios – to be on board every flight, and their responsibilities. never covered peacekeeping for other travelers. For security reasons, the TSA does not disclose the number of federal air commissioners or discuss their specific duties or routes.
The regulations say that cabin safety is the responsibility of flight attendants.
Meanwhile, unruly behavior in the skies has traditionally met with relatively low federal warnings and fines, as well as bans imposed by individual airlines. When an arrest is made, it is usually carried out by state law enforcement.
Nick Calio, CEO of Airlines for America, an aviation coalition, wrote to Attorney General Merrick Garland in May to urge swift action against unruly passengers, and proposed that the FAA refer the most serious cases to the Department of Justice for federal criminal prosecution.
Looking for new ways to shame travelers by making them behave better, the FAA broke with its usual protocol and began publishing details of the incidents. The FAA previously kept this information private, but, said a spokesperson, felt the details could make people think twice before acting on a plane.
Also, the FAA chose to be creative.
The agency tweeted some funny memes, including one with Brad Pitt as part of an awareness campaign.
In another campaign launched in early July, adorable kids starred in a public service ad that poked fun at rude adults. A wise and attractive toddler warns that adults can go to jail if they keep “doing this stuff.”
“They should know better if they are like adults,” said another child – reasonably enough – as he swayed in front of the screen perched on a swing.
Since January, the FAA has implemented a zero tolerance policy, which has removed warnings and allowed fines – which accused passengers can challenge in court – to be bigger than ever.
When FAA Chief Administrator Steve Dickson announced the policy in January, he cited the events of January 6, when supporters of President Trump stormed the United States Capitol, but more recently , incidents have been linked to the mask’s warrant. Another common thread running through the incidents was passengers deciding to bring alcohol on board flights.
This policy will be revised in September, when the mask’s mandate expires, and there are discussions to make it permanent.
As a result, bad behavior in flight has become more and more costly. Under zero tolerance, the FAA has fined 84 passengers since the start of the year $ 682,000, including well over $ 10,000.
The highest fine proposed so far this year was $ 52,500 for a Delta Airlines passenger who last December attempted to open the cockpit door, assaulted a flight attendant and was overpowered and handcuffed with the help of passengers. The woman, who was flying from Honolulu to Seattle, then released herself from the handcuffs to assault the flight attendant a second time and was greeted by law enforcement on her arrival.
Another fine of $ 21,500 went to a Frontier Airlines passenger who argued over mask policy, drank alcohol not served by the airline, and argued with a nearby passenger before to hit the passenger on the head.
And an Indianapolis woman was fined $ 18,500 for arguing with the captain of the plane and punching a nearby passenger on the back of the head, while the passenger was holding a baby in her arms.
Due to the huge workload, the task force has yet to process the fines for the incident involving the flight attendant who lost teeth.