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2 passengers behaving badly hit with largest FAA fines ever

Passengers on two different flights, who allegedly bit others along with other transgressions, now face the largest fines yet by the FAA for rowdy behavior.

One allegedly hit, bit and headbutted the crew and passengers on a flight. Another allegedly tried to hug and kiss one passenger and bit another. 

Both have now been hit with the largest proposed fines ever levied by the Federal Aviation Administration's zero tolerance policy for unruly passenger behavior -- actions that have spiked dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The FAA said that a woman fell into the aisle of an American Airlines flight from Dallas-Fort Worth to Charlotte on July 7, 2021. She allegedly threatened a flight attendant who tried to help her. The passenger, according to the account, then pushed the crew member to the side and tried to open the cabin door.

As two other flight attendants tried to restrain her, the passenger, the FAA said, hit one of them repeatedly in the head. 

Once she was put into flex cuffs, the woman allegedly spit at, headbutted and tried to kick not only the crew, but other passengers. She was taken into custody in Charlotte.

The FAA is proposing an $81,950 fine for the passenger, the largest ever for unruly behavior.

Nine days later, a woman on a Delta Air Lines flight from Las Vegas to Atlanta allegedly tried to hug and kiss a passenger that was sitting next to her. She then tried to exit the plane in mid-flight, the FAA said, refused to sit back down and even bit another passenger multiple times. 

She was restrained by the crew and now faces a proposed $77,272 fine.

The FAA said it has proposed nearly $2 million in fines to unruly passengers already this year. Those passengers have 30 days to appeal. The maximum penalty the FAA can propose is $37,000 per violation, but the agency said one incident can involve multiple violations.

“If you are on an airplane, don’t be a jerk and don’t endanger the flight crews and fellow passengers. If you do, you will be fined by the FAA,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said Friday on "The View" when announcing the fines.

FAA data shows that there were nearly 6,000 unruly passenger reports in 2021, leading to 1,113 investigations initiated. That's as many investigations as the previous eight years combined.

In 2022, there have already been nearly 1,100 reports of unruly passengers with 309 investigations started.

Airlines have banned thousands of passengers since the start of 2021 due to the bad behavior.

More than two-thirds of the cases over the past few years have involved passengers arguing against the federal mandate to wear a mask on public transit.

Eleven airline CEOs recently urged the Biden administration to lift the mandate, citing studies they say show airplane cabins are among "the safest indoor environments."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently extended its facemask guidance on transit to April 18, which some see as a sign it may be ready to announce a change in policy.

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