FAA fines Southwest Airlines passenger $40K

WASHINGTON — Federal officials are levying fines of more than $160,000 against eight airline passengers because of incidents involving alcohol.

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The largest proposed single fine, more than $40,000, involves a passenger who is accused of drinking alcohol they brought on the plane, smoking marijuana in the plane’s lavatory, and assaulting a Southwest Airlines flight attendant, the Associated Press reported. When that flight from San Jose, California, landed in San Diego, the passenger was removed and charged.

The FAA said it has received nearly 300 reports of passenger disturbances due to intoxication since the beginning of 2021, USA Today reported.

Southwest Airlines and American Airlines have said they do not plan to resume sales of alcohol on planes until next year. It is against federal law to drink alcohol on a flight that is not served by a flight attendant.

The fines are the latest attempt by the FAA to crack down on unruly passengers on planes, an issue that has become more common.

The FAA tracks unruly passenger statistics and said as of Nov. 16, there had been 5,240 unruly passenger reports in 2021, with 3,798 of those being mask-related.