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'Disturbances happening at 35,000 feet' | FAA reports major uptick in unruly passengers since the start of 2021

There have been more than 3,000 unruly passenger complaints reported so far this year compared to 150 in a typical year.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Federal Aviation Administration says there have been more passengers problems reported aboard flights than they have ever seen before, and those refusing to comply with the federal mask mandate is one of the biggest issues.

From verbal attacks to physical fights -- a spokesperson for the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) says this behavior is both dangerous and disturbing.

“We’ve seen an increase in hostility on our air crafts something we’ve never ever seen before," APFA's Paul Hartshorn, Jr. said. "But when we see these disturbances happening at 35,000 feet it becomes dangerous very quickly.”

The FAA says since the start of 2021 there have been more than 3,000 reports of unruly passengers and more than 2,400 of those involve people who refused to wear a face mask. Of the cases investigated, fewer than 100 received penalties.

“It has fines attached to it, possible prison sentence, possible banning from the airlines," Hartshorn, Jr. said.

The FAA is now sharing this Unruly Passenger PSA as a reminder that it is a federal offense to interfere with the duties of flight crew members.

Contact Briana Harper at bharper@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Credit: WCNC Charlotte

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