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FAA asks airports to monitor passengers’ alcohol consumption over spike in ‘unruly behavior’

737 MAX airplanes across the street from Boeing Field in Seattle. (Mike Siegel/The Seattle Times/TNS)
August 05, 2021

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) asked airports nationwide Tuesday to monitor how much alcohol they are serving due to an increase in “unruly and unsafe” incidents involving passengers who have had too much to drink.

According to NBC News, FAA Administrator Steve Dickson sent a letter to airport managers expressing concern regarding the amount of alcohol passengers are being served in restaurants and bars prior to flights.

“As the number of passengers traveling has increased, so has the number of unruly and unsafe behavior incidents on planes and in airports,” the administrator wrote. “Our investigations show that alcohol often contributes to this unsafe behavior.”

“The FAA requests that airports work with their concessionaires to help avoid this,” Dickson continued. “Even though FAA regulations specifically prohibit the consumption of alcohol aboard an aircraft that is not served by the airline, we have received reports that some airport concessionaires have offered alcohol ‘to go,’ and passengers believe they can carry that alcohol onto their flights or they become inebriated during the boarding process.”

The administration also recommended additional “signage, public service announcements and concessionaire education” to help increase awareness of alcohol prohibition on flights.

The FAA has repeatedly alerted airports of a significant jump in unruly or dangerous behavior occurring on flights, and the agency announced the adoption of a “zero-tolerance” approach to travelers’ bad behavior. Passengers with problematic conduct could face criminal charges, fines up to $35,000 or lifetime bans from airlines.

The letter comes just days after a fistfight broke out in the middle of a plane over a reclining seat on American Airlines flight 4698, operated by Republic Airways, according to video of the brawl.

After a flight from New Orleans to Austin arrived at Austin-Bergstrom airport around 4:20 p.m., two large men traded blows in the aisle as several other passengers shouted “stop it” in the background.

Also this week, passengers on a Frontier Airlines flight from Philadelphia to Miami duct-taped a man to his seat after he allegedly inappropriately touched two flight attendants and physically fought with a third, NBC News reported.

According to authorities, after finishing two alcoholic drinks, the man brushed his cup up against on flight attendance butt. The airline employee told him “don’t touch me,” in response.  

The man then ordered a third drink but spilled it on himself, authorities said. He then went to the bathroom and came out shirtless before groping a second flight attendant’s breasts.