Airline Passenger Violence Down So Far in 2022, But Issues Still Remain

Despite a small sample size, the Federal Aviation Administration on Friday said reports of unruly passengers on planes is down 50 percent so far in the first two weeks of 2022 compared to the same time period last year.

Yet not 24 hours earlier, prosecutors in New York revealed another violent airport incident albeit from late last year.

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In its worst year ever for naughty passengers causing verbal and physical abuse, the FAA received nearly 6,000 reports of fliers causing disruptions in 2021 – an average of nearly 16 incidents a day.

So far through the first 14 days of 2022, the FAA has received 76 reports or an average of a little more than five per day. Again, the sample size is small and you can take it with a grain of salt, but the industry is hoping that’s a good harbinger of things NOT to come in regards to passenger violence.

Of the nearly 6,000 cases last year – most of them fueled by the federal mask mandate in airports and on planes, and some by alcohol consumption – the FAA formally investigated 1,081 incidents, or about three per day.

So far, only one of the 76 reported incidents so far this year has needed an official investigation.

Although the government agency initiated a new policy last year in which particularly egregious passengers can face monetary fines for their actions, it hasn’t slowed the violence. And it didn’t in September of 2021.

A day before the FAA made its announcement about passenger violence being down so far this year, federal prosecutors in New York revealed that three women have been indicted for allegedly physically attacking a Delta Air Lines security worker at John F. Kennedy International Airport.

The three women were denied boarding a flight to Puerto Rico by the airline after Delta gate agents deemed they were acting “belligerently.”

“As alleged, the defendants viciously assaulted an airline security officer by beating him to the floor with his radio and then kicking and punching him in the face and body while he was down,” Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York (EDNY), said in a press release Thursday. “The extreme and aggressive behavior in connection with our air travel is out of control.”

The three women were released on $25,000 bail each and face trial at a later date. Ironically, the judge did allow one of the women to later fly to Florida since she had a prepaid trip planned for her birthday.

In a statement, Delta said: “Nothing is more important than the safety of our employees and customers, and we have zero tolerance for physical violence on our airports and on our planes. We will work fully with law enforcement officials to ensure this unacceptable conduct is held to account.”

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