MIAMI, Fla. – Airlines have reported more than 3,500 cases of disruptive passengers since Jan. 1, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
Another one of those cases happened Friday afternoon in a flight heading from JFK Airport in New York to Miami International Airport.
“The only people you care about are yourselves,” a passenger can be heard yelling at others in the cabin in a cellphone video captured by a traveler onboard the plane.
Witnesses told Local 10 News that the man was taking selfies and fist bumping other passengers before things quickly took a wrong turn.
One witness recalled the flight attendant walking up behind him and telling him, “Hey, sir, you can’t be doing that.” The man was walking up to passengers and he was not wearing a mask. Wearing a mask or face covering in airports and on planes is a federal law.
After not following instructions, American Airlines said the man was told to leave the plane. That’s when he started yelling and cursing at customers.
Before police came onto the plane to escort him off, he began a tirade saying, “I did nothing wrong. I was boarding my flight and they are going to kick me off the flight and ruin my whole trip for no reason. I did nothing wrong. My mask is broken. I did nothing wrong.”
Passenger Alvaro Wong said that about ten police officers boarded the flight and the man still refused to leave the plane. “They were over an hour and a half trying to get him off.”
On the tarmac, a medical crew could be seen waiting for the passenger to determine if he was having some type of medical episode.
The American Airlines flight 1466 was delayed for two hours. Scheduled for 1:30 p.m., it left at 3:30 p.m., and was scheduled to arrive in Miami at 6:44 p.m.
The FAA isn’t taking situations like these lightly and have adopted a zero-tolerance policy for passengers who act out on an airplanes with threatening or violent behavior and disrupt flights.
On January 13, 2021, FAA Administrator Steve Dickson signed an order directing a stricter legal enforcement policy against unruly airline passengers in the wake of recent, troubling incidents.
Historically, the agency has addressed unruly passenger incidents giving warnings and counseling or levying light penalties.
Under the new zero tolerance policy, FAA says no more warnings or counseling. The agency will “pursue legal enforcement action against any passenger who assaults, threatens, intimidates, or interferes with airline crew members.”
Fines and possible jail time can be levied on unruly passengers.
Over the past decade, the FAA investigated about 140 cases a year for possible enforcement actions such as fines. This year, it was nearly 600 by July 20.
One of the most frequent reasons for passenger outbursts in 2021 over are mask-mandate requirements.
As of July 20, mask-related incidents reported have totaled 2,605.