Capitol Riot Zero Tolerance $35,000 Fines And Jail For Bad Inflight Behavior Extended Indefinitely

After the January 6th riots at the U.S. Capitol, the FAA instituted a zero tolerance policy for inflight disturbances including failure to follow airline masking rules. These were temporary rules set to expire March 30, 2021. They have now been extended indefinitely, at least until the end of the mask mandate.

The Chairman of the House Transportation Committee, Pete DeFazio (D-OR) called for the fines of up to $35,000 and possible jail time extended “until public health officials determine that mass vaccinations have eliminated the risk of infection” on planes.

The policy was meant to be temporary and in response to a specific threat – people flying to and from DC to resist peaceful transition of power in the U.S. government. Now that it’s in place, it’s seen as an ongoing tool. The FAA has now extended zero tolerance fines and jail time indefinitely, “at least as long as the federal mask mandate is in effect.”

  • How do you feel about ‘enforcement creep’ – extending a temporary measure in response to Capitol riots into an ongoing measure for mask enforcement (and beyond)?

  • Should zero tolerance of bad inflight behavior by the government be a looming threat against air travelers into the future?

According to the FAA Administrator,

I have decided to extend the FAA’s unruly-passenger zero-tolerance policy as we continue to do everything we can to confront the pandemic..The policy directs our safety inspectors and attorneys to take strong enforcement action against any passenger who disrupts or threatens the safety of a flight, with penalties ranging from fines to jail time.

I wonder how this would have played out if the policy were in place when United Express had Chicago officers remove David Dao from an aircraft, leaving him bloodied. His refusal to give up his seat was considered unruly and a disruption.

The prior FAA Administrator Dan Elwell joked with United about the David Dao incident saying he hoped he’d get a denied boarding himself, and supporting their initial response to blame the passenger.

Media backlash protected Dao but should all commercial disagreements be turned into federal enforcement?

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I’m a fan of DeFazio. So I am going to agree. This is to all the drunks and right wing extremists- be warned.

  2. That is like a $ million to these traitor trash, never will get paid. Throwing them in jail will send a much stronger message.

  3. Totally agree! Everyone needs to help stop this disease so we can travel normally again even if it makes them slightly uncomfortable. Fines, jail terms, airline bans, strip them of their driver’s license, liens on their property, whatever it takes.

  4. Pardon them. They’re patriots, they did their best, but we’re still stuck with Biden ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  5. I think the country is already way too much into excessively criminalizing anti-social behavior. And given a state apparatus that gets power usually is reluctant to give up power, I am not holding my breath waiting for an abandonment of this approach.

  6. @ Stephen — Biden has gotten more done in his first 50 days than anyone EVER. no one can believe it. Trump is life-long criminal, who will hopefully end up in prison where he belongs.

  7. True, Biden was not a great choice and may not survive his term, however he was far better than his opponent so there was no choice. Millions of voters agreed.

  8. @Stephen W said: “Pardon them. They’re patriots”

    Why? Because they are a bunch of mostly older white overweight guys? Because you may have thought like them? Possibly that you think that they were right? Or you believe (against all facts) that they right to do what they did?

    Change their skin color, and then consider that bunch coming into your house to hang YOU. Still would you pardon? Or would you be standing on your porch with a gun?

    Were they misguided? yes. Were they manipulated? yes. Will they go to jail? yes.

    Actions have consequences. In your town, on a plane, or in the capitol. Equal protection under the law.

    Of course, as a “patriot” one would know that is a critical part of the 14th amendment. Of the Constitution.

    Finally, to ensure that we are on-topic: A passenger on Jet Blue is facing a $14,000 for removing face mask, drinking their own brought-on-board booze, and interfering with flight attendants. The result was the plane was turned around. Personally, I think that they should be liable for more, as it does not take into account all the individual passenger time lost.

    I have been on flights where the crew timed-out due to passenger stupidity, causing a day to be lost for most on board. This behavior is unacceptable.

  9. More abuse of citizens and overreach by government. Criminalization of not wearing a mask for a virus with a 99.999% survival rate is absurd. Cabin crew are the new NKVD who will be happy to lead us to the gulags. They routinely abuse their authority over aircraft and flight safety for things that have nothing to do with flight safety. Flight attendants are in the same boat as cops. I thought airlines learned something after the United incident with the Asian guy.

    The only riot that occurred at the capitol was congress confirming fraudulent election results. Those protests were extremely mild. The only violence occurred at the hands of cops. We agree with BLM on one thing: cops are evil. They enforce leftist laws. It’s illogical for freedom lovers to support them. Most Republicans are unfortunately Republican in name only or are illogical thinkers like Trump who support the very people (cops) enforcing leftist laws we find to be an abomination. Freedom is dead in America: no free speech, no religious freedom, no freedom of association, no gun rights, no economic freedom, and no social freedom. The federal government does exactly what the ccp does in China.

  10. Ban them all. They are un-American, they don’t get the fruits of America. A huge fine and.or Gitmo.

    Those who are terrorists against American lose their freedom.

  11. @jackspn said: “The only riot that occurred at the capitol was congress confirming fraudulent election results. ”

    No, and you need to realize that you were lied to. Trump lost almost EVERY case he brought to court, and did lose every case that went before the Supreme Court.

    There was no legitimate basis for his claims.

    If you wonder if you will be on a flight with a potential crazy radical, Jackson, you may want to look in the mirror..

    @jackdon said: Those protests were extremely mild. ”

    Wow. The video and FBI would seem to disagree with your assessment.

    We all just need to ignore our lying eyes, eh?

    No thousands going past barricades, ho hundred breaking through doors and windows, entering the halls of congress, offices, and even the senate floor itself. No evacuated positions hiding while insurrectionists yelled “Hang Mike Pence”, right?


  12. Why are people that are scared of COVID even flying? If you are worried someone might not be wearing a mask, why are you flying?

  13. Those people are not patriots, they are and will likely continue to be domestic terrorists. A $35K fine is not enough. Throw the f^*Kees in max security prisons FFS.

  14. The event at the Capitol January 6th was nothing less than an attempt to overthrow the lawful government of the United States. This was not the act of patriots . This was treason. Used to be punishable by hanging.

  15. @Stephen W Patriots do not get arrested by invading their own government. If they were black you would have them in jail.

    @Gene, Trump said he will get Obama Care repealed, he is still working on that, along with a replacement health plan in his first 100 days, I mean 1,195 But he did get the Airlines to move, closer to bankruptcy.

    @Jackson Waterson If you do not like to wear a mask STAY HOME AND INFECT YOUR FAMILY.

    The USA should be like Israel. Never heard of these nuts on a El Al plane. They know better to act like humans and NOT ANIMALS FROM THE USA.

  16. Is there a clearly defined explanation of what an ‘inflight disturbance’ is? This sounds wide open as to interpretation. Quite troubling.

    As the judge said when asked to define porn. ‘I’ll know it when I see it.’

    That is not good enough.

  17. Great Grampa Joe just woke up, he has to slurp down his medicated pea puree and watch a Gunsmoke rerun before starting his day.

  18. How do you feel about ‘enforcement creep’ – extending a temporary measure in response to Capitol riots into an ongoing measure for mask enforcement (and beyond)?

    I think the prior commenters are missing the point of the question. Gary is not asking if people think mask enforcement is necessary or unnecessary, or whether Capitol riots justified limits on people flying back from the Capitol on Jan7.

    The question is what do we think of the government exercising control based on explanation X and then when X is over, keeping control based on explanation Y.

    And I think the answer is that yes, it’s darn suspicious when someone gives you shifting explanations for why they need to do something.

    And generally, in my experience, when the government gives shifting explanations for why they need to either exert control or collect money, the explanations are excuses and the real purpose of the policy to exercise control or collect more money.

  19. In flight disturbance. How can we count an evenhanded & understood decision by cabin crew to decide what is ” flight disturbance” ?
    Extreme behavior is easy to judge. The blurry line becomes problamatic.

  20. Hell yes! I support this wholeheartedly. There are some really effed up people commenting here. You are not patriots. If you support the January 6 insurrection, you are a traitor.

  21. Who among us hasn’t gotten cross-wise with a power-tripping nut case FA? And the more you tried to de-escalate, the more they demeaned or accused you? It doesn’t happen often, but fly often enuff and you’ll either witness it or it will happen to you.

    Who decides?

  22. @JacksonWaterson:
    If you’re that overwrought, go back to the country your European ancestors came from and stay there.

  23. Good. No shirt, no shoes, (and now no mask), no service.

    A bank, grocery store, restaurant can kick you out (and call police if need be) to enforce their terms of service. An airline is no different.

  24. Can you guys hold on for a sec… I need to get some more popcorn. This is quite entertaining.

  25. The vast majority of you totally miss the point. This isn’t a sound bite on Jan 6th. The initial restrictions were VERY reasonable to minimize problems shortly after that date. However, extending them now is clearly government overreach. Also, the comment about extending the requirements until “until public health officials determine that mass vaccinations have eliminated the risk of infection” is something everyone should think about. Frankly there will NEVER be a time when the risk of infection is eliminated anywhere. This virus will become an ongoing, although most likely minor, risk for the future. If you don’t believe that you still have polio and the bubonic plague in circulation.

    The issue is when will the government end the mask mandate. Don’t say “never” since it should end when infection rates are greatly reduced and the healthcare system is not at risk of being overwhelmed. FYI, the original mask requirements and business restrictions were NOT to keep people from getting sick but from the number of sick people overwhelming our healthcare system. Now with vaccines, certain herd immunity from widespread infection (up to 30-40% of US population has been infected), improving therapeutic treatments and other medical protocols COVID will be manageable soon. Joe talked about a 100 day mask requirement – let’s hope it ends around Memorial Day. If this is extended and COVID is only a limited risk there will be a revolt. The government can’t be the nanny state – people have to assume responsibility for their own health and assume reasonable risks.

  26. Thanks AC for actually getting at the point of this post in your first paragraph.

    Of those who support the extension of this rule, no one else seems bothered by its provenance. If it’s so obvious that there needs to be jail and fines for inflight disturbances, why was the policy not introduced as such? Why was it introduced for a different reason and then extended for this reason?

  27. At this point who the hell cares about masks anymore? If you want to wear a mask, please do. If you are so much smarter than everyone else and want to virtue signal your self-prescribed intelligence by telling everyone else to wear a mask, then you probably should just not fly on a plane, because it’s never gonna be safe enough for you.

  28. The capitol hill protestors were less violent that your average blm riot.

    Remember blm did the same thing in 2018 and nothing happened to them.

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