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Southwest passenger faces biggest FAA alcohol-related fine after arrest in April


FILE – In this December 2, 2020 file photo, an American Airlines flight attendant distributes bags of snacks aboard a Boeing 737 Max before taking off from Dallas Fort Worth Airport in Grapevine, in Texas. (AP Photo / LM Otero, file)

WASHINGTON (AP) – Federal officials said Monday they are demanding more than $ 160,000 in fines from eight airline passengers for incidents involving alcohol.

The Federal Aviation Administration says the biggest proposed fine, exceeding $ 40,000, relates to a passenger who brought alcohol on the plane and drank it, smoked marijuana in the washroom and sexually assaulted a flight attendant air aboard a Southwest Airlines plane in April.

Police arrested the passenger after the plane from San Jose, Calif., Landed in San Diego, and charged him with resisting arrest and public intoxication, according to the FAA. It was not clear why the passenger had not been charged with assault. The FAA does not have the power to lay criminal charges.

The FAA has not identified any of the eight passengers, who face a combined total of $ 161,823 in civil penalties, although they have the right to dispute the allegations. In some cases, airline crews have diverted flights to land faster due to erratic passenger behavior.

The proposed fines represent the latest salute in the FAA’s attempt to crack down on unruly passengers on planes, an issue that became much more common from January. Airlines have reported more than 5,000 incidents of unruly passengers to the FAA this year.

Most of the incidents have involved passengers refusing to follow the federal requirement for passengers to wear face masks on planes, but nearly 300 have involved impaired passengers, according to the FAA.


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