Passenger on San Diego-Bound Flight Fined Over $40K After Assaulting Flight Attendant

By City News Service
City News Service
City News Service
November 23, 2021 Updated: November 23, 2021

SAN DIEGO—The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced on Nov. 22 more than $160,000 in proposed fines against intoxicated and unruly airline passengers, including a passenger on a San Diego-bound flight who allegedly sexually assaulted a flight attendant and smoked marijuana inside the plane’s lavatory.

The unidentified passenger is accused of drinking carried-on alcohol on an April 15 Southwest Airlines flight from San Jose to San Diego, prompting a flight attendant to tell the passenger such behavior was prohibited.

The FAA alleged the passenger then sexually assaulted the flight attendant, and later smoked marijuana in the plane’s lavatory as it was descending into San Diego. Upon arrival, police arrested the passenger on suspicion of resisting arrest and public intoxication, according to the FAA.

In a Nov. 22 statement, the FAA proposed fining the passenger over $40,000, along with seven other of unruly alchohol-related behavior from earlier this year, with fines ranging from around $8,000 to $34,000.

The latest round of fines are part of what the agency has called “a disturbing increase in incidents where airline passengers have disrupted flights with threatening or violent behavior.”

Since the beginning of the year, the FAA has received nearly 300 reports of “passenger disturbances” stemming from alcohol and other intoxication.

The FAA has also proposed over $1 million of fines this year for passengers who have allegedly ignored flight crew instructions and threatened or assaulted members of a flight crew.

As of Nov. 16, the agency has received over 5,000 unruly passenger reports, with nearly 4,000 related to face masks.

Earlier this year, federal prosecutors in San Diego filed felony charges against a woman for allegedly punching a flight attendant in the face multiple times during a flight to San Diego after the flight attendant asked the woman to fasten her seat belt, stow her tray table and wear her face mask properly during the plane’s descent.