Air travel: AG Garland directs federal prosecutors to prioritize cases involving violence on flights

Garland issued a memo citing dozens of cases the FAA referred to the FBI to investigate violent air travel incidents. Referrals are the result of the information exchange system in place between agencies.

The memo also instructs attorney generals to coordinate with state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies within the next 20 days to ensure that the incidents are referred to the FBI and US attorneys for possible federal prosecution.

This move comes with the entry into the United States Peak holiday travel season, which is expected to be the busiest since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. Major US airlines are operating with fewer pilots and flight attendants than they were before the pandemic, and with domestic airline bookings almost back to normal, They try to do more with less This holiday season.

“Passengers who attack, intimidate or threaten violence against flight crews and flight attendants do more than harm these personnel; they prevent the performance of critical duties that help ensure safe air travel,” Garland said in a Department of Justice statement.

The FAA has received 5,338 reports of rioting passengers, about three-quarters of which are related to the federal transportation mask mandate, and has opened more than 1,000 investigations.

It has publicly disclosed more than $1.6 million in fines against passengers accused of violence or misconduct, including more than $161,000 against eight passengers announced this week.

Overall, the number of planned domestic flights from last weekend to after New Year’s Day was down 12% compared to the same period in 2019, according to data from Cirium, an airline data tracking service.


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