SAN JOSE (CBS SF) – The Federal Aviation Administration has levied fines against passengers on flights from the Bay Area for unruly behavior, including a passenger accused of sexually assaulting a flight attendant on a flight from San Jose earlier this year.
FAA officials said that they issued a $40,823 fine against an unidentified passenger on Southwest Airlines flight from Mineta San Jose International Airport to San Diego on April 15. The agency alleges the passenger drank their own alcohol during the flight, which is prohibited under federal law.
After a flight attendant told the passenger to stop, officials said the passenger sexually assaulted the flight attendant. Before landing in San Diego, the passenger went into the airplane lavatory and smoked marijuana.
The passenger was arrested by police on charges of resisting arrest and public intoxication.
Federal officials also levied a $16,000 fine against a passenger on Delta Air Lines flight from San Francisco International Airport to Atlanta on January 24. Officials said the passenger brought small bottles of alcohol onto the flight. After a flight attendant told her twice to stop drinking, she allegedly finished the bottle in front of her.
The woman allegedly went on to pull down her mask and got close to the attendant's face, before demanding the flight attendant give their name and employee number. She also began filming the flight attendant.
Officials said the passenger was met by law enforcement after the flight was diverted to Las Vegas.
The passengers were among eight people who were levied more than $161,000 in fines by the FAA on Monday.
In a written statement, the agency said they issued the fines as part of their "Zero Tolerance" campaign against unruly passenger behavior. FAA officials said while the campaign launched in January has reduced incidents on commercial flights, the agency said the rate remains too high.
Last month, the Association of Professional Flight Attendants called on the FAA and Department of Transportation to prosecute violators and ban them from every airline, in the wake of a shocking attack on a flight attendant from New York's JFK airport to Orange County when a passenger punched the attendant's face. The flight attendant reportedly suffered broken bones in her nose and face.
Since the start of the year, the FAA said it has received nearly 300 reports of passenger disturbances due to alcohol and intoxication.
The agency, which does not have the power to prosecute, said it is working with the FBI and the Department of Justice to refer cases as appropriate.
Passengers who have been fined have 30 days to respond to the FAA.
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