Duct-Taped American Airlines Passenger Faces Record Fine

By Ivan PetrenkoJun 17, 2024 17:00 PMNews
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American Airlines passenger airliners
American Airlines passenger airliners. Source: unsplash

A three-year-old case has resurfaced where a disruptive passenger on an American Airlines flight was gagged and duct-taped to her seat, resulting in a record fine of over $80,000. The incident, which occurred in 2021, involved an American woman flying from Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) to Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT).

During the flight, the passenger consumed alcoholic drinks and began acting dangerously. According to NDTV, she assaulted fellow passengers, ran up the aisle, and attempted to open the aircraft's exit door. In response, the cabin crew and passengers restrained her with duct tape, cuffs, and a gag. Despite these measures, she continued to be aggressive, attempting to bite and headbutt those around her. Upon landing, she had to be sedated before being removed from the aircraft.

Due to her actions, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a record fine of $81,950, the highest ever imposed for a disruptive passenger. The fine was broken down into $9,000 for interfering with crew duties, $27,950 for attempting to open the cabin door in-flight, and $45,000 for assaulting crew and passengers and posing a threat to flight safety.

Despite the severity of the incident, the passenger has not paid the fine, leading the FAA to file a lawsuit to collect the outstanding amount. Interestingly, while the FAA issued the fine, no criminal charges were filed against the passenger, with only an in-flight violation recorded.

Data from the FAA reveals that 2021 saw a peak in unruly passenger incidents, with nearly six thousand cases reported, prompting the FAA to adopt a zero-tolerance policy. Although the number of incidents has decreased, it remains significant, with 2,455 incidents recorded in 2022, 2,075 in 2023, and 885 in the first half of 2024. In 2023, the FAA conducted 512 investigations and issued fines totaling $7.5 million, along with 402 enforcement actions.

The FAA emphasizes that passengers found guilty of unruly behavior can face fines up to $37,000 per violation, jail time, and future travel restrictions. This incident serves as a stark reminder of the importance of maintaining order and safety on flights.

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