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FAA Extends Zero Tolerance Policy as Long as Masks Are Required

FAA Extends Zero Tolerance Policy as Long as Masks Are Required
Joe Cortez

The Federal Aviation Administration will continue to pursue poorly behaving passengers with fines of $35,000 and potential criminal prosecution until masks are no longer needed on flights. The agency says they’ve received over 500 complaints since instituting the policy, mostly revolving the need for face coverings.

Flyers beware: acting out inappropriately on a flight could result in a serious fine, and potential jailtime. CNBC reports the Federal Aviation Administration will extend their “Zero-Tolerance Policy” indefinitely, until the order to wear face coverings on flights ends.

FAA Receives Over 500 Complaints on Flyers Behaving Badly

The FAA originally instituted the rule shortly after the attack on the U.S. Capitol Building, after videos surfaced of flyers acting unruly on flights to Washington, D.C. Since then, the agency says they have received complaints about over 500 flyers, mostly related to the national face covering mandate aboard common carriers.

“I have decided to extend the FAA’s unruly-passenger zero-tolerance policy as we continue to do everything we can to confront the pandemic,” FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said, according to CNBC. “The policy directs our safety inspectors and attorneys to take strong enforcement action against any passenger who disrupts or threatens the safety of a flight, with penalties ranging from fines to jail time. The number of cases we’re seeing is still far too high, and it tells us urgent action continues to be required.”

The rule was originally set to expire on March 31, 2021, which would fine flyers up to $35,000 per episode, along with referring cases for criminal prosecution. However, trade unions and politicians campaigned for the rule extension, citing the continual strife aviation workers face when working with the public. The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA hailed the move as necessary as long as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

“It has been difficult and combative at times without clear instruction to the public,” AFA-CWA president Sara Nelson said in a statement. “We applaud FAA Administrator Steve Dickson for his strong statements and emergency order to make clear there will be no second chances for passengers who fail to comply with crewmember instructions that keep everyone safe.”

Rule Extension Comes After Alaska Flyer Arrested for Urinating in Seat

Dickson’s announcement is on the heels of an unruly flyer case aboard an Alaska Airlines flight, where a drunk passenger was allegedly combative with flight attendants over face mask usage, before urinating at his seat. The flyer was arrested upon arrival, and is facing federal charges.

View Comments (8)


  1. eric_o

    March 17, 2021 at 4:25 am

    As a rule, zero tolerance makes zero sense.

  2. tkelvin69

    March 17, 2021 at 10:03 am

    Now if we could just get more enforcement. FAMs should be handing out citations at the end of flights.

  3. DSOhio

    March 17, 2021 at 10:39 am

    Kudos to the FAA for extending the Zero Tolerance Policy! I have flown twice internationally in the past few months and there is absolutely no reason for this behavior. Everyone, including children, on all flights wore masks and no one complained. Flights were not delayed and we arrived at our destination on time. Kudos to United for changing their policy to board from the back of the plane to the front – this definitely eliminates a lot of the carry-on luggage hold-up in the aisle when trying to board.

  4. LuckyStrike

    March 17, 2021 at 2:53 pm

    Unless you’re John Kerry. Check out the Tennessee Star. On a commercial flight reading without a mask. Rules for thee but not for me.

  5. SamirD

    March 17, 2021 at 3:49 pm

    Rules and law shouldn’t be selectively enforced in the first place as that only invites corruption. Interpret the law and then enforce it. It’s not that hard…

  6. lyst

    March 17, 2021 at 4:12 pm

    John kerry and the rest of those in control, know that masks and lockdowns don’t work!

  7. Gizzabreak

    March 18, 2021 at 11:42 am

    Why only “as long as face masks are required”? How about “forever” with a big “side dish” of universally coordinated, life long, air travel ban. Give us passengers who know how to behave permanent relief from all this misbehaviour garbage … it’s TOTALLY unnecessary and unacceptable.

  8. PaulMSN

    March 18, 2021 at 5:41 pm

    Note that it appears that John Kerry’s mask came loose for only a short time. Even the poster of the pic admits that he wore it for the rest of the flight.

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