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FAA Calls on Airports to Curb Passenger Rage

Running out of ideas to reduce unruly passenger incidents, the Federal Aviation Administration is now calling on airport operators for help. Along with sharing the public service announcements created by the agencies, they are asking concessionaires to stop serving “alcohol to go.”

With unruly passenger incidents on the rise, the Federal Aviation Administration is now asking for airports to help stop bad behavior at the gate. In an open letter to airport leaders, FAA administrator Steve Dickson is requesting airports air public service announcements and cut down on “alcohol to go” service.

FAA Blames “Alcohol To Go” for Part of the Unruly Passenger Problem

In his letter, Dickson specifically cites the concessionaires as a key part of the problem. With some airport restaurants offering “Alcohol To Go” as part of their new menu service, the administrator believes that it is directly contributing to the number of drunk passengers ready to start fights at 30,000 feet.


“Even though the FAA specifically prohibit the consumption of alcohol aboard an aircraft that is not served by the airline, we have received reports that some concessionaires have offered alcohol ‘to go,’ and passengers believe they can carry that alcohol onto their flights or they become inebriated during the boarding process,” Dickson writes. “Airports can help bring awareness to this prohibition on passengers carrying open alcohol onboard their flights in 14 CFR 121.575 through signage, public service announcements, and concessionaire education.”

In addition, the agency leader wants airports to start displaying their public service announcements on monitors throughout the terminal. In July 2021, the FAA launched a set of online memes to help educate passengers, while releasing a video with children talking about appropriate behavior on aircraft.

Number of Unruly Passenger Incidents Continue to Grow

As of August 1, 2021, the FAA has received over 3,700 of unruly passengers aboard aircraft, leading to 628 investigations and 99 enforcement cases involving fines. To date, the agency has levied over $600,000 in fines against flyers.

While the FAA continues to have a “zero tolerance” policy for unruly behavior, the agency has no criminal authority to pursue formal charges. Meanwhile, the number of investigated incidents is now double the previous record set in 2004 of 310 incidents.

bbriscoe34 August 18, 2021

Agree with Dr G. This is a people problem - and its a tiny minority. Alcohol effects everyone differently - for many it is relaxing and an enjoyable way to spend a flight, while watching a movie or dozing off. Most of them you don't even realize are buzzed. Its the .001% or less of drinkers who actually start incidents and make headlines. Those simply need to be arrested, put on the no fly list and sentenced to an appropriate period in jail for their actions.

Prof_Dr_G August 13, 2021

The problem is not alcohol. Alcohol has been available in airports and on aircraft since the beginning of commercial flight. The problem is the people, and that includes airline and airport employees. With respect to passengers, barbarians are in the air. This is a people problem; not an alcohol problem.

SamirD August 12, 2021

$600,000 in fines and 99 enforcements, so basically $6k to do whatever you want and get away with it. I don't think this problem is going to get solved with those type of consequences...

TrenchantBludgeon August 11, 2021

So let me see if I got this right. Airlines now charge us for almost everything that used to be free (assigned seats, baggage, printed boarding passes, food, drink, etc.), the cram us into seats that are simply inadequate the average sized flyer, much less anyone over about 5'9" and 150 pounds, can cancel or reschedule flight virtually at will (generally claiming weather delays to avoid compensation), and treat the paying passengers like cattle, but it's the AIRPORTS fault that people get angry on flights. I totally get this.

wasjr August 11, 2021

I have been flying since 1971, and I really don't see much change in the way people drink. What I have seen change, especially since 2000, is the way people are treated ... I get it that security as well as safety are always foremost, but I have been treated worse and worse throughout the years - and I don't even drink! I remember being able to fit in a seat, being greeted genuinely at the gate and the door, and being able to buy a ticket knowing all the costs incurred. Now I feel like I am always sitting in another persons space, get ordered to shut up, run on and sit down, and even though I have tons of upgrades and only occasionally travel in coach, understand the frustrations of all the various fees being sprung on Customers. I know that if I treated my Customers like the way the airlines treat their Customers, I would be out of business ... no matter what I charged.