FAA warns travelers can face fines of up to $35,000 for unruly behavior

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Travelers could face serious trouble if they refuse to wear masks in aircrafts, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced on Saturday.

FAA Administrator Steve Dickson made this warning in the wake of on-board incidents in recent days involving pro-Trump chanting and refusal of passengers to wear face masks in protest of Congress’ move to certify the Electoral College result.

“The FAA will pursue strong enforcement action against anyone who endangers the safety of a flight, with penalties ranging from monetary fines to jail time,” Dickson said in a statement.

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Wearing of masks is one of the health requirements to fly on all of the airlines in the United States, to curb the spread of COVID-19.

On Friday, Alaska Airlines banned 14 passengers on a Washington D.C.-Seattle flight. The airlines said the passengers “were non-mask compliant, rowdy, argumentative and harassed our crew members. Their behavior was unacceptable.”

Alaska Airlines extended its apologies to other passengers “who were made uncomfortable on the flight.”

Earlier this week, travelers chanted “traitor” on a Delta Air Lines flight carrying Republican Senator Mitt Romney. 

Delta Air Lines said its “crew quickly engaged and resolved the issue.”

The FAA warned passengers of facing fines of up to $35,000 for making threats of physical assault.

“Federal law prohibits you from physically assaulting or threatening to physically assault the crew, and anyone else, on an aircraft. You could be subject to fines of up to $35K and imprisonment for such conduct,” the FAA said in a tweet.

“The first rule is something we’ve always called common courtesy. Once we are aboard the aircraft, the way we behave impacts those around us,” it added.

Both American Airlines and United Airlines earlier boosted their staffing at Washington DC after riots at the US Capitol.

The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA) International, which represents about 50,000 flight attendants at 17 airlines, stated that the protesters should not be allowed on flights home.

“Their violent and seditious actions at the Capitol (Wednesday) create further concern about their departure from the DC area,” AFA president Sara Nelson said in a statement. “Acts against our democracy, our government, and the freedom we claim as Americans must disqualify these individuals from the freedom of flight.”

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