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Austin passenger fined $32,000 after she 'punched, screamed and snatched cookies'

(Pexels file photo)

The Federal Aviation Administration released its list of fines for unruly passengers on flights and the biggest was charged to a woman flying out of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.

The woman, one of 5,114 year-to-date FAA reports of unruly behavior, was fined $32,000 after a flight from Austin to San Francisco on Horizon Air on May 18. The passenger was one of more than 100 passenger disturbances involving physical assault.

According to the FAA, the passenger "did not follow crew instruction to fasten her seatbelt. She punched and screamed at her husband and son, repeatedly, diverting flight attendants from their duties. She threw trash at a flight attendant, and snatched cookies from a nearby passenger."

It wasn't the only Texas case—a woman going from Dallas-Fort Worth to Aspen was fined $23,000 on March 11 after she "verbally abused flight attendants after she realized her assigned seat would not recline." Even though "multiple passengers offered to switch seats with her," and she eventually switched seats with another passenger, the woman continued to verbally abuse attendants and then "struck a flight attendant on the right forearm, and attempted to do so again." The woman refused to comply with the facemask policy and was met by law enforcement at the gate."

The FAA said disturbances have been on a decline since it implemented its "zero-tolerance" campaign in March to curb inappropriate behavior on flights in January, though it is still "too high." The agency is opting to fine passengers for problematic behavior after U.S. airlines have had to ban at least 3,000 since last May.

The agency announced more than $225,000 in fines, ranging from $9,000 to $32,000, against 10 total passengers.

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