The Federal Aviation Administration reported another increase in unruly passenger incidents on planes as air travel hits pandemic highs.
In a memo from the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. attorney general asked prosecutors to prioritize such cases and move swiftly on reports of so-called “air rage” incidents.
As of this week, there have been more than 5,300 incidents in the skies so far this year -- an increase by orders of magnitude from prior years when only hundreds had been reported.
The FAA’s data shows a similar spike in disputes about masks aboard flights, potentially fueling the outbursts.
At a summer congressional hearing, the head of the nation’s flight attendants union urged the Justice Department to take a tough line against passengers who commit the crimes.
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“We need to make it clear to the public about the seriousness of this, of these disruptions in the air and how it can have such a dramatic impact on the safety and security of our air travel,” said Sara Nelson of the Association of Flight Attendants.
A recent News4 I-Team investigation found some of the most recent local incidents involved passengers who were intoxicated, including a woman prosecuted in federal court in Virginia who was allegedly found with a half empty bottle of vodka during an incident aboard a flight to Dulles International Airport.