The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) on Tuesday announced a new partnership to address the skyrocketing amount of unruly passenger incidents aboard aircrafts.
Under the new agreement, the FAA will notify the TSA of passengers facing fines for “bad behavior” on flights; the TSA may in turn choose to revoke the passenger’s TSA Pre-Check status, a privilege that is reserved for “low-risk travelers,” the agencies wrote in a statement.
“If you act out of line, you will wait in line,” FAA administrator Steve Dickson added. “Our partnership aims to promote safe and responsible passenger behavior. One unruly incident is one too many.”
TSA Pre-Check is a service offered at over 200 airports nationwide to allow for a smoother check-in process. Individuals must complete a background check and screening process before approval.
As of Dec. 14, the FAA has received over 5,000 reports of unruly passengers from this year alone. The agency has initiated investigations for 1,030 incidents – an exponential increase from the year prior, when the FAA opened a mere 183 investigations into unruly passengers.
More than 4,000 incidents stemmed from passenger refusal to wear a mask on board the flight.
Under the agreement announced Tuesday, the TSA will share passenger information with the FAA so the agency can “identify and locate unruly passengers to serve them with penalty notices.”
"We have tremendous respect for airport staff, gate agents and flight crews that get people safely to their destinations,” TSA administrator David Pekoske wrote in part. “This partnership with FAA will help ensure the safety and security of all passengers and hold those who violate federal regulations accountable for their actions.”
In previous years, the FAA would choose between a range of tactics – including warning notices, civil penalties or counseling – for unruly passengers.
But under the administration’s new zero-tolerance policy, announced by administrator Dickson in January of this year, the FAA now moves directly to legal action.
“Flying is the safest mode of transportation and I signed this order to keep it that way,” Dickson said at the time.