- The FAA sent a letter to airports this week asking for help prosecuting unruly passengers.
- It also asked airports to remind travelers that drinking alcohol not served by the airline is unlawful.
- The FAA has received 3,420 reports of unruly passengers as of mid-July.
- See more stories on Insider's business page.
The Federal Aviation Administration sent a letter to US airports this week asking for help protecting travelers and flight attendants from unruly passengers.
The FAA is asking airports to prohibit passengers from bringing to-go cocktails from airport bars to the plane. The agency bars travelers from drinking alcohol on the plane that was not served by the airline.
The agency also asked airports to help prosecute unruly passengers.
"Every week, we see situations in which law enforcement was asked to meet an aircraft at the gate following an unruly passenger incident," FAA administrator Steve Dickson wrote in the letter. "Nevertheless, many of these passengers were interviewed by local police and released without criminal charges of any kind. When this occurs, we miss a key opportunity to hold unruly passengers accountable for their unacceptable and dangerous behavior."
The FAA has received 3,420 reports of unruly passengers as of mid-July - more than three times the number received last year.
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Most unruly passenger reports stem from disagreements over the federal mask mandate on board planes. Shortly after taking office, President Joe Biden issued an executive order requiring travelers wear face masks on planes to stop the spread of COVID-19.
But flight attendants have faced aggression, harassment, and sometimes violence when trying to enforce the mask policy. The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA union reported 85% of workers in a 5,000 person survey said they experienced unruly passengers this year.
Flight attendants told Insider the passenger violence has negatively impacted their mental health, leading to burnout and thoughts of leaving the industry altogether.
"I'm very sad that passengers have so much disrespect and disregard for their fellow passengers and crew," one San Francisco-based flight attendant said. "Flying used to be glamorous and fun. And it still can be - if the attitude of travelers changes."
The FAA did not have additional comments to add.