According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), U.S. Airlines have already filed about 2,500 reports of unruly passengers this year, 1,900 of them of passengers refusing to wear the required face masks, with more than 4,000 passengers not allowed to board the planes, as required by the U.S. government.
Homeland Security Minister Alejandro Mayorkas recently issued a stern warning that the agency would not tolerate passengers refusing to wear masks at airports or on board planes.
The need to deal with unruly passengers became more evident after the recent attack on a Southwest Airlines flight attendant, causing her serious injury, including the loss of two teeth.
The passenger who attacked the crew member was banned from flying with Southwest for life, and was charged with grievous bodily harm.
Other serious cases have been reported recently, and some have already been tried in courts.
Only this month, for example, an American Airlines passenger was arrested after punching a flight attendant several times. In February, a $27,500 fine was imposed on a Delta passenger who refused to wear a mask last year, and hit a crew member.
A United passenger was recently fined even more severely, to the amount of $50,000. The incident happened after he attacked a female flight attendant, forcing the flight from Los Angeles to Tokyo to land in Anchorage, where he was taken off the flight.
As a result of this latest incident, Southwest Airlines has announced its intention to postpone the return of alcohol sales on board, scheduled on some flights in June.
American Airlines will also take similar action, putting off its schedule resumption of alcohol sales to September 13, when masks will no longer be mandatory on airplanes, and all other means of public transportation.
One should note that American Airlines’ ban on alcohol only applies to economy passengers. Business and first class passengers will still be able to consume alcohol on flights.