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FAA seeks $27,500 from passenger it says struck flight attendant

CBS News logo CBS News 2/27/2021 CBSNews
a large passenger jet flying through a blue sky: delta.jpg © Mario Tama / Getty Images delta.jpg

Federal officials are seeking a $27,500 civil penalty against an airline passenger who allegedly struck a flight attendant who asked the woman and her companion to leave the plane after a dispute over wearing a face mask.

The confrontation on board a Delta Air Lines flight departing from Miami International Airport for Atlanta  began when the passenger's companion refused to wear a mask, secure his tray table or fasten his seatbelt, the Federal Aviation Administration said Friday. Delta, like most airlines, requires most passengers to wear masks except when eating or drinking.

Several passengers recorded the incident and posted video on social media.

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Pilots returned the plane to the gate, and the pair was asked to disembark. The female passenger began yelling at the flight attendant and other passengers, then hit the flight attendant under her left eye, according to the FAA.

The FAA did not identify the passengers. The woman has 30 days to respond to the proposed penalty. The FAA said it appears that she violated a federal regulation against assaulting a crew member, which carries a civil penalty of up to $35,000.

The FAA announced tighter enforcement of rules against disturbances on planes after several rowdy incidents in early January on flights to and from Washington.

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