Mask challenges fuel spike in air rage incidents | Connect FM | Local news radio
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(WASHINGTON) – The rise in air passenger numbers has been accompanied by an increase in violence and assaults at airports across our country and on onboard flights across the country.
On Tuesday, two US federal agencies, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) sounded the alarm bells on increasingly hostile skies.
The FAA announced nearly 100 more in-flight incidents with unruly passengers – a week after its worst weekly unruly passenger report this summer – bringing this year’s total to 3,509 reports. The overwhelming majority of these incidents, 2,605, involve passengers refusing to comply with the federal mask mandate.
These acts of aggression also occur before boarding.
Acting TSA Administrator Darby LaJoye told the House Subcommittee on Transportation and Maritime Safety on Tuesday morning that there have been more than 85 physical assaults on TSA agents since the start. of the pandemic. This figure includes 25 assaults since the end of May.
LaJoye said two assaults were reported at checkpoints on Monday alone.
“There has been some frustration over the mask warrant which has been widely reported,” he said.
But a number of assaults have also been linked to alcohol.
“The passengers pushed and shoved the officers and in some cases the passengers literally bit the TSOs,” said House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie G. Thompson, D-Miss. “Too often, these assaults occur simply because a crew member was doing their job of seeking to enforce common sense mask policies designed to protect passengers from COVID-19.”
Assaulting a TSA agent can result in a civil penalty of up to nearly $ 15,000 and a ban from TSA PreCheck. The FAA says its maximum penalty for interfering with the flight crew is $ 35,000, but the agency has proposed fines of up to $ 52,000.
The TSA last month warned of a staff shortage as air travel rebounded faster than expected.
Representative Carlos Gimenez, R-Fla., Said the checkpoint lines in Miami were the longest he had ever seen – recalling that the line for TSA PreCheck was “almost 50 meters long before backward”. He expressed concern that the lines could lengthen further when international and business travel resumes.
“We have hired approximately 4,700 agents,” LaJoye said at Tuesday’s hearing. “In the last two weeks alone… we have recruited close to 500 agents and we are on track to reach the number of 6,000 we knew we needed, throughout the summer.
Assaults can’t help, but he explained that retention issues are mainly due to pay.
“It’s common for the hardworking people to be treated the worst,” said Rep. Donald Payne Jr., DN.J. “These frontline workers are not being paid up to the level and importance of their work… Now the BSF are under attack across the country.
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