Incidents of unruly passengers on the rise again, FAA data shows

(CNN) – Incidents of unruly passengers are on the rise again, according to new figures from the Federal Aviation Administration.

FAA figures released Tuesday show more disruption on commercial flights in the past week than any week in the past two and a half months.

The FAA says there were 128 new incidents reported by flight crews, bringing this year’s total to 4,626 incidents. The new number is the highest weekly figure since the FAA began publishing weekly data on July 20.

About 72% of the issues last week were around the federal transport mask mandate, according to the figures.

The FAA adopted a zero tolerance policy for unruly and sometimes violent passengers on flights earlier this year.

A $ 45,000 fine announced in August was imposed on a passenger accused of throwing his luggage at another passenger and, while lying on the aisle floor, “of catching a flight attendant. look through her ankles and put her head under her skirt ”.

Another passenger would not be wearing his face mask, the FAA said, and “acted like his hand was a gun and made a bench, bench” sound like he was shooting another passenger.

Weapons and masks, a problem for the TSA

The increase in unruly passenger behavior recorded by the FAA comes as airport security officers find weapons more frequently than before the pandemic, even though the number of people traveling is still declining.

In late September, Transportation Security Administration chief David Pekoske said his agency had found around 7,900 guns, including firearms so far this year, 4,500 of which he called ” real weapons “, such as loaded weapons.

The TSA typically only releases the number of firearms its agents find. Last year, the TSA found 3,257 firearms and 83% were loaded. This was less than the 2019 record of 4,432 firearms, but air traffic was significantly lower in 2020 due to the pandemic.

By the end of September, the TSA had projected about two-thirds of the volume it had seen at the same time in 2019.

“These are big numbers,” Pekoske said at a conference hosted by the Regional Airline Association. “The rate per million passengers is much higher today than it was two years ago.”

He said officers also seized more than 3,200 items banned from aircraft cabins, such as knives and throwing stars.

At the same time, TSA agents are dealing with the enforcement of the federal mandate of the transport mask and agitated or violent travelers. Pekoske said 110 TSA agents were assaulted this year.

He declined at the time to say whether the mask’s mandate could expire in January or whether it would be extended again. Approximately 3,600 violations have been reported to the TSA.

Photo: Travelers pass through Miami International Airport on September 3 in Miami. (Joe Raedle / Getty Images)

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