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Heading Out for the Holidays? Remember to Bring Along Patience When Flying

The Dynamics of Air Travel During Holidays

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The holiday season brings a unique dynamic to air travel, where diverse groups of Americans share confined spaces in often stressful environments. Civility becomes essential in these settings, especially given the increasing polarization in society.

Challenges Posed by Unruly Passengers

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Despite most travellers behaving appropriately, there has been a rise in incidents involving unruly passengers. These range from minor disturbances to serious offences like assault.

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TSA’s Encounter with Serious Incidents

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From June to December this year, the TSA reported 187 serious checkpoint incidents, including 37 assaults on TSA officers. These numbers indicate a troubling trend in air travel behaviour.

FAA’s Involvement in Addressing Unruly Behavior

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The FAA referred 270 cases to the FBI for review and potential prosecution from late 2021 to this summer. These referrals highlight the severity of the issue.

FAA’s Report on Unruly Passengers

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Since January, nearly 2,000 incidents involving unruly passengers have been reported by the FAA. This figure underscores the growing problem in the aviation sector.

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TSA’s Response to Checkpoint Incidents

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TSA has recorded over 22,000 checkpoint incidents this year, resulting in more than 700 employee assaults. The agency can impose civil penalties up to $14,950 per violation.

Legal Consequences for Unruly Passengers

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Assaulting a Transportation Security Officer (TSO) is a federal crime, with significant penalties. For instance, Ma’Kiah Cherae Coleman faces serious charges for assaulting officers at Sky Harbor International Airport.

TSA and FAA’s Collaborative Efforts

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The TSA and FAA are partnering with airlines to curb the rise in unruly passengers. Offenders may lose TSA PreCheck privileges and face stringent future travel screenings.

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Coordination Among Agencies

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TSA and FAA are working with DOJ, FBI, and local law enforcement to manage in-flight disturbances. Despite these efforts, TSA has seen a 50% increase in disruptive passenger incidents compared to 2019.

Concern Over Firearms at Checkpoints

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The increasing number of firearms intercepted at TSA checkpoints is alarming. The case of Kenny Wells, sentenced for firing a shot at a TSA checkpoint, exemplifies this concern.

TSA’s Record on Intercepting Firearms

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In the first half of 2023, TSA stopped 3,251 firearms at airport checkpoints. This pace is set to surpass last year’s record, with most of these guns being loaded.

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Reflection on Civility in Air Travel

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The trends in air travel call for a return to civility and patience. Lee Kair, an aviation security expert, emphasizes the importance of reflecting on these issues for a safer travel experience.

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