FAA requests fines against passengers for alleged assaults over masks

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Two airline passengers could face large fines for allegedly assaulting flight attendants who told them to wear masks. 

On Friday, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced that it has proposed civil fines of $15,000 and $7,500 against the passengers for the separate incidents, which both happened in August.

The $15,000 fine was proposed against a passenger who flew from Clearwater, Florida, to Mascoutah, Illinois, on an Allegiant Air flight. 

The $7,500 fine was proposed against a passenger who flew from Atlanta to Chicago on a SkyWest Airlines flight. 

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According to the FAA, the Allegiant Air flight had to be diverted because the passenger allegedly hit and screamed obscenities at a flight attendant. 

The person was also accused of grabbing the phone from the attendant "while he was speaking with the captain about the passenger’s behavior over a face-covering dispute," the FAA said.

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The FAA has proposed civil fines against two passengers who allegedly assaulted flight attendants in two separate incidents in August. (iStock)

The SkyWest Airlines flight passenger allegedly removed their mask, "continually bothered other passengers," and even "grabbed a flight attendant’s buttock as she walked by the passenger’s row of seats," according to the FAA. 

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The agency did not name the passengers and does not have the authority to file criminal charges. 

Both passengers have 30 days to respond to the FAA’s enforcement letters. 

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"While the failure to wear a face covering is not itself a federal violation, federal law prohibits physically assaulting or threatening to physically assault aircraft crew or anyone else on an aircraft," the FAA said.

However, passengers can be charged with criminal fines and jail terms if they interfere with an airline crew member’s duties, but law enforcement agencies have to file those charges.

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Even though the FAA has not made wearing a face covering a federal rule, all leading U.S. airlines require passengers to wear masks, with exceptions generally made for children under 2.

Airlines in the U.S. say they have banned more than 1,000 passengers for not wearing masks.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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