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United States Department of TransportationUnited States Department of Transportation

Unruly Passengers

The FAA investigates unruly-passenger incidents that airline crews report to the agency. The data below reflects all cases the FAA investigated that cited violations of one or more FAA regulations or federal laws.

Zero Tolerance for Unruly and Dangerous Behavior Toolkit — digital products to help promote safe and responsible passenger behavior and bring awareness to the zero tolerance policy. Products include press releases, videos, and graphics.

Year-to-date numbers current as of November 23, 2021.

An unruly passenger on an airplane.

5,338 Unruly Passenger Reports

An unruly passenger on an airplane refusing to wear a mask.

3,856 Mask-related Incidents Reported

A magnifying glass focusing on people.

1,012 Investigations Initiated

A judge's gavel.

266 Enforcement Cases Initiated

Rate of reported unruly passenger incidents per 10,000 flights

(click to enlarge)

Investigations initiated for calendar years 1995–2021
Year Investigations initiated
1995 146
1996 184
1997 237
1998 204
1999 226
2000 255
2001 305
2002 279
2003 286
2004 310
2005 205
2006 137
2007 153
2008 124
2009 139
2010 128
2011 155
2012 183
2013 149
2014 147
2015 105
2016 102
2017 91
2018 159
2019 146
2020 183
2021 1012

Hover for more details.

General notes

  • Interfering with the duties of a crewmember violates federal law.
  • Federal Aviation Regulations 91.11, 121.580 and 135.120 state that "no person may assault, threaten, intimidate, or interfere with a crewmember in the performance of the crewmember's duties aboard an aircraft being operated."
  • The numbers in the table reflect all cases that FAA investigated that cited violations of one or more of the following regulations and/or federal laws: 14 CFR 91.11, 121.580, 135.120, 125.328, 49 U.S.C. 46318 & 46504. Historically, FAA has closed these cases with legal enforcement action (civil penalties), administrative action (warning notices), compliance action (counseling), or no action if there is insufficient evidence of a regulatory violation or violation of federal law. However, under our current zero-tolerance policy toward unruly passengers, we are not addressing cases with warning notices or counseling.
  • The FAA's database contains only those incidents reported to FAA. Reporting is at the discretion of the crewmember.
  • Security violations are excluded. Those cases are handled by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).
  • The repercussions for passengers who engage in unruly behavior can be substantial. They can be fined by the FAA or prosecuted on criminal charges.
  • As part of the FAA's Reauthorization Bill (PDF) FAA can propose up to $37,000 per violation for unruly passenger cases. Previously, the maximum civil penalty per violation was $25,000. One incident can result in multiple violations.

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