Dangerous Behavior Doesn't Fly

The FAA has seen a disturbing increase in incidents where airline passengers have disrupted flights with threatening or violent behavior.

On January 13, 2021, former FAA Administrator Steve Dickson signed an order directing a stricter legal enforcement policy against unruly airline passengers in the wake of recent, troubling incidents.

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.

Unruly Passenger Statistics as of September 20, 2022

Masked Person

• 1,973 Unruly Passenger Reports

Security officer in front of an aircraft

• 680 Investigations Initiated
• 468 FAA Enforcement Cases Initiated

Blurred photo of a passenger on an aircraft

• 80 Cases Referred to FBI for Criminal Review

Additional Background

  • Interfering with the duties of a crewmember violates federal law.
  • The FAA has civil authority, allowing it to impose fines. It does not have criminal prosecutorial authority.
  • As part of the FAA's Reauthorization Bill, 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.
  • The repercussions for passengers who engage in unruly behavior can be substantial. They can be fined by the FAA or prosecuted on criminal charges.
  • Security violations are excluded. Those cases are handled by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

View Administrator Dickson's video on FAA Zero Tolerance Policy

Woman wearing a mask standing in line at airport