businessAirlines

U.S. attorneys to give priority to prosecuting unruly and violent air travelers

Attorney General Merrick Garland directed the aggressive action in a memo issued Wednesday,

Attorney General Merrick Garland directed U.S. attorneys across the country to swiftly prioritize prosecution of federal crimes that happen on commercial flights as federal officials face a historic number of investigations into passenger behavior.

Garland’s memo, issued Wednesday, emphasizes that the Justice Department is committed to aggressively prosecuting violent passengers who assault crew members or endanger the safety of other passengers. Federal law prohibits interfering with a flight crew, including assaulting, intimidating or threatening crew members.

In a statement, Garland said such passengers do more than harm employees. “They prevent the performance of critical duties that help ensure safe air travel. Similarly, when passengers commit violent acts against other passengers in the close confines of a commercial aircraft, the conduct endangers everyone aboard,” he said.

The memo also notes that dozens of incidents have been reported to the FBI by the Federal Aviation Administration — it investigates some flight disturbances and can issue civil fines to disruptive passengers — as part of an “information-sharing protocol” between the two agencies.

The FAA said earlier this month that it had launched 950 investigations into passenger behavior on flights this year. That is the highest total since the agency started keeping track in 1995. In the five years from 2016 through 2020, the agency averaged 136 investigations a year.

The agency also said that it had referred 37 cases involving unruly airline passengers to the FBI for possible criminal prosecution since the number of disruptions on flights began to spike in January.

Airlines and their unions have pressed the federal government to push more aggressively for criminal prosecution. Airlines have reported more than 5,000 incidents involving unruly passengers this year, with more than 3,600 of those involving people who refused to wear face masks as required by federal regulation.

“The Department of Justice is committed to using its resources to do its part to prevent violence, intimidation, threats of violence and other criminal behavior that endangers the safety of passengers, flight crews and flight attendants on commercial aircraft,” Garland said in the statement.

A passenger wearing a sombrero checks with a flight gate agent at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.
Airlines

‘Treat me with respect’: Weary airline workers beg passengers to stay calm during holiday travel

Airline and airport workers plan to blast passengers with targeted ads asking for a little sympathy during the holiday season after nearly two years of heightened nerves for travelers and employees alike. The union representing passenger service agents at American Airlines and United Airlines, CWA Local 6001, are starting an online advertising campaign targeting people around the busiest airports in the region in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri as they head into a potentially volatile holiday travel season.
By
Business Briefing

Business Briefing

Become a business insider. Get the latest headlines delivered to your inbox every weekday.

By signing up you agree to our privacy policy