A passenger who got unruly aboard a flight bound for Los Angeles from New York, forcing the pilot to return to the terminal gate and delaying takeoff, was fined $20,000 by the Federal Aviation Administration, the agency announced Wednesday.
The fine against the unnamed passenger was one of 10 announced Wednesday, totaling more than $200,000 in civil penalties.
According to the FAA, the Los Angeles-bound passenger was aboard a flight from New York on Jan. 4. While the pilot was taxiing away from the gate in New York, the passenger "yelled orders at multiple flight attendants," then removed his seat belt, began moving around the plane and refused instructions to return to his seat.
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The passenger then threatened a flight attendant with an expletive.
"While moving up and down the aisle during taxiing, he made physical contact with a flight attendant and continued yelling profanities," according to the FAA. "The flight returned to the gate and law enforcement officers were forced to board the flight to remove the man."
According to the FAA, since the beginning of the year, the agency has received more than 100 reports of passenger disturbances that involved "physical assault." While the FAA can assess civil penalties, it can also refer cases to federal prosecutors for consideration of criminal charges if warranted.