The Federal Aviation Administration issued a new rule that drops the hammer on people who want to do anything other than quietly sit in their seats and follow crewmember instructions during the flight. Specifically, the ruling puts new, stricter penalties in place for people refusing to wear masks or otherwise being extremist assholes in the unpleasant close quarters of an aircraft. Most notably, such people will no longer even get warnings.
"Historically, the agency has addressed unruly-passenger incidents using a variety of methods ranging from warnings and counseling to civil penalties," the FAA's statement said. "Effective immediately, however, the FAA will not address these cases with warnings or counseling. The agency will pursue legal enforcement action against any passenger who assaults, threatens, intimidates, or interferes with airline crew members. This policy will be in effect through March 30, 2021."
Over the past few months, there have been multiple violent incidents on planes related to mask-wearing. After the Capitol riots, the nation's largest flight attendants’ union said they don't feel safe allowing rioters on planes and want them banned. And there have been multiple incidents in airports of Trump supporters heckling senators.
Anyone found to be violating the FAA's rules against physical assault or verbally threaten anyone on an aircraft could face fines up to $35,000 and imprisonment, according to the FAA.
“Flying is the safest mode of transportation," said FAA Administrator Steve Dickson in the statement, "and I signed this order to keep it that way."