FAA proposes $14,500 penalty against passenger refusing to wear a mask on a JetBlue flight

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The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) proposes a $14,500 civil penalty against an airline passenger for allegedly interfering with flight attendants who instructed him to wear a face mask and stop consuming alcohol he had brought on board the aircraft.

On a 23 December 2020 JetBlue Airlines flight from John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) in New York to the Dominican Republic, the passenger crowded the traveller sitting next to him, spoke loudly, and refused to wear his face mask, the FAA alleges. Flight attendants moved the other passenger to a different seat after they complained about the man’s behaviour.

A flight attendant warned the man that JetBlue’s policies required him to wear a face mask and twice warned him that FAA regulations prohibit passengers from drinking alcohol they bring on board an aircraft. Despite these warnings, the passenger continued to remove his face mask and drink his own alcohol, the FAA alleges.

A flight attendant issued the passenger a “Notice to Cease Illegal and Objectionable Behavior,” and the cabin crew notified the captain about his actions two separate times. As a result of the passenger’s actions, the captain declared an emergency and returned to JFK, where the plane landed 4,000 pounds overweight due to the amount of fuel onboard.

The passenger has 30 days after receiving the FAA’s enforcement letter to respond to the Agency.

March 12, 2021

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