Unruly Airline Passengers May Increase Risk to Flying

Unruly Airline Passengers And The Coronavirus.Trouble in the Skies

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, it seems that passengers who refuse to comply with airline rules have increased. Delta Airlines has banned more than 800 people from flying on its planes, and United Airlines has banned around 615 people.[1] These passengers consist of those refusing to wear masks, and those that “assault, threaten, intimidate, or interfere” with crew and staff.[2] Recently, three passengers on Spirit Airlines attacked agents over a feud about baggage, leaving one agent hospitalized.[3] Working in the skies or in airports has become more dangerous, not only for workers, but for other complying passengers as well.

Government Response

It is regarding heightened tensions due to the pandemic that many of these incidents happen, but they are no excuse for putting others’ safety in danger. The Federal Aviation Administration is ramping up pressure on unruly passengers, adding fines that can go as high as $35,000, along with the prospect of criminal prosecution and imprisonment.[4] It is in the hopes that this will deter disruptive behavior on and before flights. Such behavior often results in flight delays, causing further stress for other passengers. What does all this mean for airline professionals and other passengers?

Workers’ Compensation

Airline professionals can expect a heightened degree of physical injury from violent passengers, in addition to other types of injury incurred on flights, such as from turbulence and loading/unloading baggage. They can also expect verbal abuse and racism, such as when an African American flight attendant associated with American Airlines was subjected to “racial epithets”.[5] Racism has no place in society, and these incidents should be fully prosecuted. Depending on the circumstances, these professionals involved in verbal and physical abuse can file a workers’ compensation claim based on their toxic, traumatizing, or outright dangerous environment. Not to mention the passengers who refuse to wear masks are putting dozens of other passengers and workers in danger of contracting the virus in a closed space.

Business or Coach?

Workers involved with other companies yet fly coach and economy may encounter disturbances on airplanes that interfere with their work. Getting involved in a dispute with another passenger due to proximity or difference is becoming a more likely occurrence. Flying business class may be more advised because of the reduced chance for these types of incidents to occur. Speaking with your employer about your concern for safety may be recommended to encourage them to pay for you to ride business class. Employers are keen in looking out for the safety of their employees.

Thanking Law Enforcement

Oftentimes, other passengers must restrain an unruly or violent passenger. Normally this should be done by law enforcement, but they are not always immediately available. Off-duty police officers sometimes risk their security, without their gear or equipment, to do just this in the hopes of bringing about safety to the cabin. We thank law enforcement and those who risk their own safety for the safety of others.

A Record of Representation

We have a history of representing airline employees in the industry and have offered grueling representation to these professionals, viewable on our Case Results page. Some of the cases we have prosecuted for airline attendants include a worker who tripped over a rug while boarding the plane. After complex spinal surgery, he won $121,125. Another involved a service manager who carried bottles of alcohol when the plane “experienced sudden drops in altitude.”[6] After sustaining herniated discs, our firm prosecuted the case to obtain payment of all medical treatment as well as payment of $120,150 to the petitioner.[7]


[1] Chokshi, Niraj, and Charlie Savage. “The F.A.A. Cracks Down on Unruly Airline Passengers Ahead of Inauguration.” The New York Times, The New York Times Company, 14 Jan. 2021, www.nytimes.com/2021/01/14/business/faa-trump-unruly-passenger-ban.html.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Puhak, Janine. “Three Spirit Airlines Passengers Arrested for Allegedly Attacking Agents over Baggage Dispute.” Fox News, FOX News Network, LLC, 19 Jan. 2021, www.foxnews.com/travel/three-spirit-airlines-passengers-arrested-attacking-agents.

[4] “Press Release – Federal Aviation Administration Adopts Stricter Unruly Passenger Policy.” Federal Aviation Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation, 13 Jan. 2021, www.faa.gov/news/press_releases/news_story.cfm?newsId=25621.

[5] Chokshi, Niraj, and Charlie Savage. “The F.A.A. Cracks Down on Unruly Airline Passengers Ahead of Inauguration.” The New York Times, The New York Times Company, 14 Jan. 2021, www.nytimes.com/2021/01/14/business/faa-trump-unruly-passenger-ban.html.

[6] “New Jersey Workers Compensation Law – Case Results – Workplace Lawyers.” LIVINGSTON DIMARZIO BROWN, LLP – The Workplace Lawyers, LIVINGSTON DIMARZIO BROWN, LLP, 18 Mar. 2020, www.workplacelawyers.com/case-results/.

[7] Ibid.

WorkplaceLawyers.com is the website for the workers compensation attorneys firm of Livingston, DiMarzio LLP Our team of attorneys is made up of New Jersey Mesothelioma Lawyers, NJ Workers Comp Lawyers, Employment Lawyers and Certified New Jersey Worker’s Compensation Attorneys.