A week after a federal judge in Florida struck down a government mask mandate on public transportation, the number of unruly air passenger incidents reached its lowest level since 2020, says the Federal Aviation Administration. The agency reported 1.9 incidents per 10,000 flights during the week ending April 24, down from 4.4 incidents per 10,000 flights a week earlier, the New York Times reports. The decrease in incidents comes after then-FAA administrator Steve Dickson implemented a zero-tolerance policy against unruly passenger behavior in January, resulting in hefty fines instead of the warning letters or counseling that were used previously.
Last month, the FAA recommended record fines of $81,950 and $77,272 against two passengers involved in separate incidents on flights operated by American Airlines and Delta Air Lines. One woman was accused of spitting at, head-butting and biting a crew member. Another attempted to hug and kiss the passenger seated next to her before walking to the cabin door and trying to exit the plane during the flight. “The unruly passenger rate dropped by more than 60 percent after the F.A.A. implemented its zero-tolerance policy and while the face mask mandate was still in effect,” the agency said. The rate dropped further after the mask mandate was lifted on April 18. Since January 2021, 7,200 unruly passenger incidents have been reported to the FAA, 70 percent involving the enforcement of masking rules. “