In one case, a flight attendant said four passengers who would not keep their masks on harassed her over what they called “a simple mask issue.” The situation got so tense, the plane had to return to its gate. In another incident, a passenger who kept removing his mask rolled his eyes and told a flight attendant to shut up. Then, he yelled it: “SHUT UP!”
Other flight attendants have been met with passive aggressive displays of defiance. One flight attendant said a passenger refused to put his mask back on after the in-flight beverage service despite multiple warnings. Finally, he told the crew, “Well, if I hold my water bottle, I cannot wear my mask, right?” He then sipped water slowly for the rest of the flight, exploiting a policy that allows passengers to remove their masks while actively eating or drinking…
The situation has become so troubling that the Federal Aviation Administration recently announced it would adopt a stricter approach to dealing with unruly passengers.
Through March 30, 2021, passengers who assault, threaten, intimidate or interfere with airline crew members can face fines of as much as $35,000 and even imprisonment, according to the FAA. The agency had previously addressed such instances with warnings and civil penalties, among other methods.