The passenger is one of eight who faces fines for their unruly driving in violation of federal regulations. When combined, passengers face $ 161,823 in proposed civil penalties. The FAA does not have the power to lay criminal charges.
The man, who has not been identified, was on an April 15 Southwest Airlines flight from San Jose to San Diego. The FAA said flight attendants caught the man drinking his own alcohol, which is prohibited, and continued to do so even after learning it was illegal.
The agency also alleges that the man sexually assaulted a flight attendant during the flight and, as the flight descended into San Diego, the man entered the flight toilet to smoke marijuana.The flight crew called law enforcement who took the passenger into custody when the plane landed on charges of resisting arrest and public intoxication.
All eight cases concern passengers who drank alcohol on board the flight. Several have refused to wear their face masks, the FAA said. In some cases, the airline has diverted flights due to erratic passenger behavior.
The FAA in January announced tougher penalties for those who threaten, intimidate or interfere with crew members due to an increase in unruly behavior this year.
A cellphone video captured the moment a Southwest Airlines flight attendant was assaulted during a disagreement over the airline’s mask policy.
“I have signed an order directing safety inspectors and FAA lawyers to take legal action against any passenger who assaults, threatens, intimidates or hinders airline crew members,” said the FAA administrator Steve Dickson in a PSA video message in January. “We will not deal with these cases through warnings or advice. ”
Airlines have reported more than 5,000 incidents of unruly passengers to the FAA this year, and the FAA said it has received nearly 300 complaints about alcohol.