The Federal Aviation Administration has proposed a $14,500 civil penalty charge against a passenger on a JetBlue flight who interfered with flight attendants after being instructed to put his face mask on and to stop drinking alcohol he brought on the plane.
The flight, which took off from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York and was intended to fly to the Dominican Republic, departed on Dec. 23.
Ultimately, due to his actions, the plane was forced to turn around and return to its airport of origin, landing nearly 4,000 pounds overweight due to unused fuel, according to a statement from the FAA.
“The passenger crowded the traveler sitting next to him, spoke loudly, and refused to wear his face mask, the FAA alleges,” the FAA said in the statement. “Flight attendants moved the other passenger to a different seat after they complained about the man’s behavior.”
During the flight, a flight attendant warned the man, whom the FAA did not name in their statement, that he was required in accordance with the airline’s policies to wear a face mask. They also warned him two times that the FAA forbids passengers from drinking alcohol that they have carried on board.
The passenger continued removing his mask and drinking in spite of warnings.
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“A flight attendant issued the passenger a ‘Notice to Cease Illegal and Objectionable Behavior,’ and the cabin crew notified the captain about his actions two separate times,” the FAA said. “As a result of the passenger’s actions, the captain declared an emergency and returned to JFK.”
The passenger will have 30 days after receiving the agency’s “enforcement letter” to respond.
This isn’t the first time that the FAA has proposed a fine as a result of a passenger’s refusal to follow its rules.
Last month, the FAA proposed a civil penalty for a passenger traveling on Delta Air Lines passenger who was traveling from Miami to Atlanta on Oct. 19.
The unnamed passenger is facing a $27,500 fine for allegedly striking a flight attendant in the face in October.
The FAA said the passenger, who has 30 days to respond, was traveling with another passenger who refused to wear a mask, fasten his seatbelt or put up the tray table. As a result, the flight returned to the gate, and the passengers were asked to get off the plane.
The passenger facing the fine ignored the flight attendant’s instructions to leave the plane, began swearing at the flight attendant and then struck her under her left eye, the agency says.
The incident on the Delta flight was captured by fellow passengers in October. Delta issued this statement at the time: “There is nothing more important than the safety of our people and customers. That’s why two customers who did not comply with crew safety instructions were asked to deplane Flight 1997 this evening. We do not tolerate violence of any kind and this situation is currently under investigation. We apologize to customers for the flight delay this caused.”
The FAA adopted a stricter policy on unruly passenger behavior in January due to incidents involving Capitol riot participants and a steady stream of passengers refusing to comply with airline mask policies. Passengers will no longer get any warnings.
Contributing: Dawn Gilbertson