This week, the Department of Justice announced a crackdown on such behavior.
In a memo issued on Wednesday, Attorney General Merrick Garland directed staff at the Department of Justice to prioritize prosecutions of federal crimes involving onboard threats and assaults.
The memo states, in part:
“Passengers who assault, intimidate or threaten violence against flight crews and flight attendants do more than harm those employees; they prevent the performance of critical duties that help ensure safe air travel. Similarly, when passengers commit violent acts against other passengers in the close confines of a commercial aircraft, the conduct endangers everyone aboard.”
As of Tuesday, the FAA says it’s gotten more than 5,300 reports of unruly passenger incidents since January.
About 80% of them, nearly 4,000 incidents, are mask-related.
This month, the agency said it has proposed more than $200,000 in civil fines for 10 passengers accused of violent physical assaults, noting that since it announced a zero-tolerance policy unruly incidents are slightly down.
Since November, 37 of the most egregious cases have been turned over to the FBI for criminal investigation.
“Flight attendants are begging make it stop,” said Sara Nelson, President of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA.