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American Flyer Ordered to Pay Nearly $39,000 Over Mask Disturbance

An American Airlines flyer will need to pay the airline the cost for diverting the flight back to its origin and get court approval to fly after pleading guilty to interfering with a flight crew member.
After a verbal confrontation over a face mask, an American Airlines flyer will pay the carrier $38,952 in restitution – nearly the cost of diverting the flight back to its origin airport.


The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona announced the penalty in the case of 29-year-old Cayla Farris, who agreed to plead guilty to one felony count of interfering with a flight crew.


Incident Over Face Mask Happened Aboard Hawaii-Bound Flight

According to settlement documents, the incident happened on February 13, 2022, aboard a flight from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) bound for Honolulu, Hawaii. Around a half-hour into the flight, Farris decided to remove her face covering despite the airline policy calling for all flyers to wear one. Although she initially complied, Farris says she decided to remove it again.


When warned again by the flight crew, the settlement claims Farris began “cursing and threatening passengers and air crew members in the operation of her duties.” The disturbance ultimately forced the pilots to return the flight to Phoenix and have Farris removed.


Under the agreement, Farris will receive a time-served sentence of 3.6 months in prison and pay American the cost of diverting the flight back to Phoenix. In addition, she will not be allowed to fly aboard a commercial aircraft without the approval of the federal court. She must also not use alcoholic beverages during her supervised release and attend regular mental health counseling appointments.


The investigation was handled by both the Phoenix Police Department and the FBI.


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off-shore November 28, 2023

When people lack civic behaviour and even force a flight to return for behaving anti-social, society needs to be protected from them.

bortain November 21, 2023

Nobody liked wearing masks on airplanes, we did it because it was required. The airlines were following mandates from the government at that time. American immediately quit requiring them when the US appeals court vacated the order. It wasn't American's fault that the passengers had to wear masks, American was just doing what was legally required at the time.

sfoeuroflyer November 21, 2023

It's too bad that this happened over the ridiculous face mask policy.  Face masks on a plane were theater.  Cosmetics.  I agree that disruptive passengers need to face real consequences.  The guardrails on decent polite behavior no longer seem to exist.  That said, the forced face masks rules were criminally stupid, unscientific, unsupported by properly done clinical trials.  Those masks were an uncomfortable imposition on every person and did nothing from a public health standpoint.  A wise solution should have been a symbolic fine and a rebuke of the CDC and DOT.  Save the real punishments for real disruptive incidents.

SamirD November 20, 2023

Perhaps this will be an example of rulings to come.  It would be nice if every one of the 'incidents' were charged like this.  That should solve the problem flyers.

deltamedallionflyer November 17, 2023

unfortunately, the anti-masker temper tantrums still worked. airlines got tired of the tantrums, deemed them a more immediate threat, and now pretend no one gets sick while flying anymore, anyway