WASHINGTON — The Federal Aviation Administration said that it is reviewing 1,300 reports of passengers behaving badly on flights since February and that it has identified potential violations in about 260 cases.
The agency said that 20 passengers have received notice that they face possible enforcement action — which could include jail time or thousands of dollars in fines — and that it is preparing ’'a number’' of additional enforcement actions.
The FAA had initiated only 1,300 such cases in the past decade.
It’s not clear whether the number of reports has risen because more passengers are acting out or whether airlines have become more aggressive in reporting incidents. In the past, the FAA rarely used its enforcement powers in such cases.
However, in response to a wave of disruptive behavior on flights linked to the Jan. 6 riot at the US Capitol, FAA administrator Steve Dickson signed an order in January establishing a ’'zero-tolerance’' policy for passengers who refused to follow crew members’ orders when onboard. The order was set to expire in March, but was extended indefinitely.
The Biden administration also has taken a more aggressive approach toward mask-wearing, mandating such behavior in many settings.
On Friday, the Transportation Security Administration announced it would extend a requirement that people wear masks in transportation settings, including at airports, on commercial aircraft, and on buses and trains through Sept. 13. The requirement had been set to expire May 11.