CHICAGO (NewsNation Now) — TSA screening numbers on Sunday were the highest they’ve been since the pandemic started. Unfortunately, passenger disturbances are also at an all time high.
The planes are packed full and people are tense, especially about wearing masks. Flight attendants say they have never seen hostility quite like this before.
Passengers wrestled an unruly man on a Delta Airlines flight from Los Angeles to Atlanta. The flight had to be diverted to Oklahoma. Delta said the problem passenger ended up being an off duty flight attendant.
So far this year, the FAA says they have received 3,000 reports about unruly passengers,
2,300 of those cases involve passengers not complying with the federal mask mandate.
“This is not just about face masks. We have seen incidents related to alcohol. Violence towards flight attendants. And abusive behavior in general,” said FAA administrator Steve Dickson.
Unruly passengers not following mask rules on an American Airlines flight from Los Angeles to Charlotte, North Carolina caused one flight attendant to make an emotional announcement.
“Shame on the passengers who have made this flight a living hell!” shouted the flight attendant. “We love this job. But the fact we get insulted and mistreated over stuff we cannot control…it is disgusting.”
The Association of Professional Flight Attendants said there are twenty times more passenger disturbance reports so far this year compared to last year.
“We are seeing verbal assaults on every crew almost every day… many of these issues of mask compliance are being exacerbated by the use of alcohol both in the airports and alcohol brought onto the airplane by passengers,” said Paul Hartshorn Jr. from the Association of Professional Flight Attendants.
Unruly passengers who refuse to wear masks can be fined up to $15,000.
If things aren’t already tense, the TSA is now warning that staffing shortages could cause long lines at checkpoints.