LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - With the summer travel season about to kick off, the Federal Aviation Administration is cracking down on unruly passengers.
The agency has tracked a spike in dangerous behavior on airlines. Typically, the FAA would record up between 100 to 150 formal cases of bad behavior on airlines in the United States annually. Since the start of 2021, that number has jumped to 1,300.
It causes even more concern since the number of passengers on planes is lower than pre-pandemic levels.
Many viral videos show passengers who refuse to wear a face mask per federal regulations, verbal abuse, or physical altercations between passengers or crew.
This behavior would usually call for the passenger to be removed from the flight or lead to an emergency landing. Now, that passenger could face further penalties.
In the FAA’s zero-tolerance policy, unruly passengers could face criminal charges, fines up to $35,000, or a lifetime ban on certain airlines.
The Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport hasn’t seen many of these cases at this time and will continue to enforce state and federal health guidelines.
“People want to go places,” Louisville Regional Airport Authority spokesperson Natalie Chaudoin said. “They want to travel, that demand definitely seems to be there. Our numbers are showing that. So people are wearing them (face masks) and we’re not really seeing issues here locally, fortunately.”
As flights allow for more passengers, the FAA will work with the Transportation Security Administration and Air Marshals to watch for unruly behavior that could threaten crew or passenger safety.