American Airlines has extended its ban on alcohol in the main cabin through 2022.
The airline on Thursday announced that it will not resume alcohol service for the main cabin – which was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic – until January 18, 2022.
‘We are doing all we can to help create a safe environment for our crew and customers onboard our aircraft,’ American said in an internal memo obtained by NBC News.
The memo emerged after it was revealed the Federal Aviation Administration has issued a total of $1million in fines this year against unruly passengers after receiving nearly 3,900 reports of incidents since January.
The FAA has proposed fines against 80 passengers so far, including one JetBlue customer who was hit with the heaviest fine of $45,000 for hurling objects at passengers and putting his head up a flight attendant’s skirt on May 24.
Of the incidents, which were detailed by federal investigators for the first time, nearly two-thirds involved passengers accused of violating the federal transportation-wide mask mandate.
American Airlines extended its ban on alcohol in the main cabin through 2022 (file photo)
Unruly passengers aboard flights have made big headlines, including that of Maxwell Berry, pictured tapped to his seat after allegedly groping and punching flight attendants in July
Maxwell Berry, 22, was duct-taped to his seat and arrested on three counts of battery
Louts and loudmouths slapped in incidents involving cocaine use, attacks on flight attendants and fights with other passengers
The FAA proposed a zero-tolerance policy in 2021
- A man aboard a JetBlue flight from New York to Orlando allegedly threw objects at passengers, blocked the aisles and put his head up a flight attendants skirt. The plane made an emergency landing and he was handcuffed and fined $45,000
- A man aboard a JetBlue flight from New York to San Francisco allegedly snorted cocaine, kept removing his facemask, made non-consensual contact with another passenger, threatened to harm and stab other passengers. The man was arrested and fined $42,000
- A man aboard a Southwest Airlines flight from Orlando to Kansas City allegedly assaulted passengers around him because someone had refused to change seats to accommodate the man’s partner. The man was arrested and fined $32,500
- A man aboard a Frontier Airlines flight from Atlanta to New York allegedly assaulted two flight attendants after the plane landed, threatening to kill one of them. He was arrested and fined $30,000
- A woman aboard a Frontier Airlines flight from Orlando to Providence, Rhode Island, allegedly kept kicking the plane’s bulkhead, screaming obscenities at fellow passengers and flight attendants, locking herself in the bathroom and throwing nuts at people. She was arrested and fined $25,500
Federal documents also show that half of the 34 new incidents that resulted in fines involved fights on planes heading to or from Florida. Nine passengers were accused of touching or hitting someone else, and eight passengers are accused of illegally drinking alcohol they snuck on board, CNN reports.
Unruly passengers aboard flights have made headlines recently and even spurred United Airlines to send out a company-wide memo, instructing its flight attendants not to duct tape passengers to their seat following previous incidents aboard competing airlines.
This year, the FAA imposed a zero-tolerance policy for interfering with or assaulting flight attendants that carries a fine of up to $35,000 and possible jail time.
Of the 3,900 cases reported, the FAA has opened 682 investigations into possible violations of federal laws.
The number of cases under investigation are about three times the number the agency has had to deal with in the last 15 years.
The FAA does not have the authority to file criminal charges, but instead proposes civil fines that the accused violators may pay or dispute.
House Transportation Chairman Peter DeFazio, of Oregon, told CNN that he would like to see steeper punishments for those accused of in-flight violence facing prison time.
‘The first time we take one of these jerks who is assaulting flight attendants or attempting to take an aircraft down – and they go away for a few years and they get a massive fine – I think that will send a message,’ he said.
The largest flight attendant union, the Association of Flight Attendants, has also called for more prosecutions.
‘If you interfere with a crew member’s duties and put the rest of the plane in jeopardy, or assault the crew member, you’re facing $35,000 in fines for each incident and up to 20 years in prison,’ association President Sara Nelson told CNN. ‘People need to understand there are severe consequences here.’
In July, Maxwell Berry, 22, was allegedly drunk on a Frontier Airlines flight between Philadelphia and Miami on July 21.
Police said Berry groped two female flight attendants and punched a male flight attendant before the staff restrained him in the seat with duct tape.
Videos showed Berry on the flight shouting ‘Help me’ and trying to wring free from the duct tape, which also covered his mouth.
Sara Nelson released a scathing statement saying this was ‘one of the worst examples’ of unruly passengers flight attendants had ever faced.
‘A drunk and irate passenger verbally, physically and sexually assaulted multiple members of the crew. When he refused to comply after multiple attempts to de-escalate, the crew was forced to restrain the passenger with the tools available to them onboard. We are supporting the crew,’ Nelson said.
Berry was arrested on three counts of battery following the incident.
There was another incident on July 6 incident, where an unidentified woman aboard an American Airline flight allegedly tried to open a plane door and bit a flight attendant.
The FAA has received nearly 3,900 reports of unruly passengers so far this year. It has opened 682 investigations into possible violations of federal laws, a huge spike from recent years
The woman, who was believed to be suffering from a ‘mental health episode,’ was restrained to her seat with tape nearing the end of a three-hour flight, with video of the incident shared on TikTok.
Yet another incident occurred on American Airlines earlier this month when an 11-year-old boy with autism was duct-taped to his seat after suffering a meltdown.
He had been fighting with his mom, who is disabled and had a difficult time getting her son to calm down, a source told DailyMail.com.
The chaotic scene stressed out the autistic boy’s brother, whose age is unknown, and he panicked and tried to break the plane window while the they were in the air, according to the source.
The flight diverted to Honolulu, where the family and other customers were ‘re-accommodated on other flights or provided hotel accommodations,’ an American Airlines spokesperson said in an emailed statement.
A female passenger ended up having ‘a mental health episode’ on a flight from Dallas to Charlotte and was duct taped to her seat along with having tape placed over her mouth
House Transportation Chair Pete DeFrazio, of Oregon, said he wanted to see stricter punishments against unruly passengers aboard flights to curb the number of incidents
These types of unruly passenger behavior has become a common problem for flight attendants in 2021, according to a study released by the flight attendants union on July 29.
It included nearly 5,000 responses from flight attendants across 30 airlines between June 25 to July 14.
The online study said 85 percent of flight attendants have dealt with unruly passengers; nearly 1 in 5 have experienced physical incidents in 2021; and 71 percent of flight attendants who filed incident reports to management received no follow up.
Duct taping passengers can be common practice, with United Airlines reporting such incidents aboard their own flight in 2003, 2008 and 2018, The Washington Post reported.
The International Air Transport Association said in a statement that passengers are only ever restrained as a last result if other efforts to get a situation under control have not worked.
“Cabin crew are trained in de-escalation and restraint techniques and equipment (if carried) by their airline,” the statement said. “There is no industry standard restraint equipment, so it is up to the individual airline. Some airlines may equip their cabins with kits that include restraint devices.”