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FAA Keeps Zero Tolerance Policy for Unruly Passengers Even After Federal Judge Strikes Down Mask Mandate

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The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration is keeping its zero-tolerance policy for unruly passengers.

“I think it's a great thing. I think it will be added support for myself and fellow colleagues as well as the other law enforcement personnel that are either on or not on the aircraft. It'll just help us a bit more with keeping folks in line and getting back to keeping our skies friendly,” Flight Attendant Latifah Fields said.

Since last year, cases of unruly passengers skyrocketed. In 2021, there were 5,981 reports of unruly passengers of which over 70% were mask-related. So far in 2022, there are 1,233 reports of unruly passengers on airplanes of which just under 70% were mask-related.

“It was really difficult, just trying to be the 'mask police' for lack of better words,” Fields said.

In April, a Federal Judge struck down the mask mandate on public transportation. Since the mandate was scraped most U.S. airlines made wearing a mask onboard a plane optional.

Some people believe the new mask policy along with the FAA keeping their zero-tolerance policy for unruly passengers could help stop the rise in incidents of unruly passengers.

“I think it should decrease. I personally feel like folks are now to the point where, okay, now I have control of what I can do and what I will do to an extent. Still, you still need to follow certain other rules on board the aircraft,” Fields said.

Many passengers NBC 7 spoke with said they will still continue to wear a mask while onboard an airplane.

“For myself personally I’d probably still wear a mask in places like airports and in heavily trafficked places just for the sake of trying to keep myself healthy and everyone else healthy,” Traveler Karissa Frealy said.

The FAA has referred 80 unruly passenger cases to the FBI.

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