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New FAA Commercial Warns Unruly Passengers Results in Distracted Flying

In their latest attempt to curb air rage incidents, the Federal Aviation Administration released a new 30-second public service announcement featuring air traffic control audio from an actual emergency caused by unruly passengers. The announcement leaves flyers with a warning: in-flight incidents result in distracted pilots.

The Federal Aviation Administration is leaving flyers with another stern warning: unruly passenger incidents endanger everyone by distracting the pilots from flying. CNN Travel reports the new 30-second message features actual air traffic control audio from a flight.

Dramatic Message Details an In-Flight Incident As It Happens

The message starts with pilots alerting air traffic controllers there is an incident onboard their aircraft. In the background, screams and scuffling can be heard as a fight takes place. The pilots then declare an emergency, ask for permission to divert their flight and have law enforcement meet them at the gate. The end of the message leaves viewers with a stern message: “You don’t want your pilots distracted. Unruly behavior doesn’t fly.”

This new message comes after the FAA has seen a record spike in unruly passenger incidents aboard aircraft, mostly revolving around the federal face covering mandate. To date, the agency has proposed over $1 million in fines against passengers for a range of terrible actions, from attacking flight attendants to trying to kick out a window.

The FAA has attempted to make the public aware before, using an online public service announcement featuring children talking about appropriate behavior, to a meme-style social media campaign. Despite the advertisements, the agency notes they have received nearly 4,000 unruly passenger complaints in 2021, leading to 693 investigations and 132 enforcement cases as of the time of publishing. Labor unions representing aviators are hopeful this incident will be enough to stop the trend of mid-flight incidents.

“The moment that it happens in the back, the attention of the whole crew goes to that,” said American Airlines pilot and president of the Allied Pilots Association Capt. Dennis Tajer to CNN. “The first thing you want to do is not distract from your primary duties…keeping this airplane safe.”

Unions and Lawmakers Press for Federal Criminal Charges Against Unruly Flyers

Because the FAA is not a law enforcement agency, their power is limited to issuing civil fines and backing airline policies. While officials previously stated they would potentially send some cases to the Department of Justice for prosecution, both lawmakers and unions have asked for criminal charges to anyone disrupting a flight.

Feature image courtesy: Federal Aviation Administration via YouTube

JumboJetPilot August 28, 2021

Incidents of unruly behavior should be dealt with swiftly and severely. Put such pax on the TSA’s Do Not Fly list for life. Just the threat of knowing that one could be banned from any and all commercial flights to, from, and within the US will be enough to stop some passenger from becoming unruly.

SamirD August 25, 2021

Surprising that being unruly on the ground is criminal but is not in the sky. The people committing these crimes could care less if the pilots get distracted. And now that I think about it, knowing what happens 'behind the scenes' in such incidents, those that want to purposely crash a plan or have other nefarious intentions just got another tool in their belt. :(

Seat 2A August 25, 2021

I'd like to think an immediate and strong response might get the point across to these people - most of whom don't relate well to logic and reason anyway. Any time threats and/or actual violence are involved inflight, the passenger involved should be banned from flying for life - not just on the airline involved but on ALL airlines. Too strong of a response, you say? There are 330 million of us here in America alone. I don't think we're gonna miss a few hundred losers who can't appreciate the big picture and tend to resort to threats and violence when they're confronted with it.

SkyIsKing August 25, 2021

Flying is not a right but a privilege which means that people who fly, need to be in control of their behavior. The airline industry is distracted with keeping profits up, that they allow people on planes that should not be flying. If one is going to fly commercial, one has to abide by the rules of the FAA and the airline without exception. The flight crews are the messengers who are doing their jobs in terms of keeping flying as safe as possible. There should be a zero-tolerance for unruly behavior in the air.

GrumpyYoungMan August 25, 2021

4400 complaints, but only 693 investigations and under 200 "enforcement cases?" And now a PSA? Sounds like there's a lot of overreaction happening. Oh wait, I forgot...Can't Be Too Safe ™