An American Airlines passenger who had to be duct-taped to her seat after she attacked crew members aboard a flight last summer has been hit with a fine of nearly $82,000 – the largest penalty ever – from the US Federal Aviation Administration.
“If you are on an airplane, don’t be a jerk and don’t endanger the flight crews and fellow passengers. If you do, you will be fined by the FAA,” US transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg said in announcing the fine.
The passenger was flying from Dallas, Texas, to Charlotte in North Carolina on 6 July on an American flight.
A statement by the airline had said that the woman had allegedly attempted to open the forward boarding door of the aircraft and subsequently attacked crew members.
“While in flight from Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) to Charlotte (CLT) on July 6, the crew on board American Airlines flight 1774 reported a potential security concern after a customer attempted to open the forward boarding door and physically assaulted, bit and caused injury to a flight attendant,” the airlines had said.
The airline added that the woman had been restrained for the safety of the crew until the flight landed.
Videos circulated on social media showed the woman restrained to her seat with what appeared to be several pieces of silver duct tape; her hands were seen bound with an unknown object behind her back, and her mouth was covered with tape as well.
The FAA said on 8 April that it had also imposed a fine of $77,272 on another woman passenger.
The fine, which is the second largest imposed by the agency, was imposed on a passenger who was flying on a Delta Air Lines flight from Las Vegas to Atlanta on 16 July.
The passenger allegedly attempted to hug and kiss the passenger seated next to her, walked to the front of the aircraft to try to exit during flight, refused to return to her seat, and bit another passenger multiple times.
The crew had to physically restrain her.
The FAA said that the two passengers have 30 days to respond to its letter imposing the fines.
“Federal law prohibits interfering with aircraft crew or physically assaulting or threatening to physically assault aircraft crew or anyone else on an aircraft. Passengers are subject to civil penalties for such misconduct, which can threaten the safety of the flight by disrupting or distracting cabin crew from their safety duties,” the FAA said.
“Additionally, federal law provides for criminal fines and imprisonment of passengers who interfere with the performance of a crewmember’s duties by assaulting or intimidating that crewmember.”