(DailyExpertNews) — The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) have joined forces to combat unruly airline passengers.
The two organizations have issued a statement declaring that travelers who cause problems could lose their TSA PreCheck credentials.
“Our partnership is focused on promoting safe and responsible passenger behavior,” said FAA Administrator Steve Dickson in the announcement, released Dec. 21, ahead of the busy Christmas and New Year travel season.
He added: “If you trade outside the lines, you wait in line.”
The TSA and FAA said they will share information about unruly passengers.
Currently, passengers who cause problems are fined and individual airlines can exclude certain travelers.
The FAA reports that it received 5,779 complaints about unruly behavior in 2021. Of these, 4,156 have to do with mask rules. Only 325 have resulted in active law enforcement cases.
So far in 2021, airline passengers in the United States have earned hundreds of thousands of dollars from such fines, with the highest — $40,823 — charged against a passenger who brought their own alcohol on board, attempted to smoke marijuana in the plane’s bathroom, and a flight attendant sexually assaulted.
According to the TSA, more than 10 million U.S. citizens and permanent residents have TSA PreCheck. The program allows vetted travelers to bypass certain security measures, such as taking off shoes and removing laptops and other small electronics from suitcases, at US airports.
However, both agencies said PreCheck was a privilege, not a right.
“TSA will not tolerate the unruly behavior, especially when it comes to physical attacks on aircraft. We have tremendous respect for airport staff, gate agents and flight crews who get people safely to their destinations,” said TSA Administrator David Pekoske.
Changing aviation rules during the coronavirus pandemic have taken things from bad to worse for airline personnel. Cabin crew members, in addition to providing safety briefings and providing food and drink, are now required to enforce mask rules and other Covid-related hygiene protocols.
In September, flight attendant Allie Malis, a government affairs representative at the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, told DailyExpertNews it’s getting more dangerous on board.
“It seems like each subsequent incident gets a little more extreme,” she said.
Among the reasons Malis cited were smaller airplane seats — which can lead to personal space issues — and alcohol.
“We have put ourselves on the front lines and quarantined our families,” she said. “We’re doing our job. We’re not the reason your flight was cancelled, we’re not the reason you’re frustrated.”
TSA PreCheck area at SFO airport via AP Photo/Jeff Chiu.