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Airline groups ask DOJ to help crack down on violent passengers

The Hill logo The Hill 6/22/2021 Joseph Choi
a person holding a sign: Airline groups ask DOJ to help crack down on violent passengers © Getty Images Airline groups ask DOJ to help crack down on violent passengers

Organizations representing airlines and their workers sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland on Monday asking him to help crack down on violent passengers amid a string of confrontational incidents.

The letter was sent by 10 different groups, NBC News reported, including Airlines for America, Allied Pilots Association, Transport Workers Union of America and the Association of Professional Flight Attendants.

The organizations asked that the Department of Justice and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) go for the "public prosecution" of passengers who become violent onboard flights.

"Specifically, the federal government should send a strong and consistent message through criminal enforcement that compliance with federal law and upholding aviation safety are of paramount importance," the letter read.

In the past few months, the FAA has levied heavy fines against passengers who have become violent or attacked flight crew members. FAA Administrator Stephen Dickson said in January that he would be adopting a zero tolerance policy toward unruly passengers, going straight for fines and jail time instead of issuing warnings.

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In a separate letter to Dickson, Airlines for America asked him to enforce stricter punishments while thanking him for the policies he has enacted so far, NBC reported.

"Unfortunately, we continue to see onboard behavior deteriorating into heinous acts, including assaults, threats and intimidation of crewmembers that directly interfere with the performance of crewmember duties and jeopardize the safety and security of everyone onboard the aircraft," the organization wrote.

"We respectfully request that the FAA and other federal agencies amplify the messaging to reach all travelers about the proposed penalties in addition to using all resources, including the media, to put a very public spotlight on the sentences handed down to perpetrators," it added.

Although the number of airline passengers has yet to rebound to pre-pandemic levels, the number of such incidents reported on airplanes has skyrocketed.

In May, Dickson said the rise is something "we should all be concerned about."

"We have seen an alarming increase in the rate over the last few months, and it's something that we need to get under control," Dickson said while appearing on ABC News.


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