JetBlue Passenger Faces $14,500 Fine After Refusing to Wear a Mask and Forcing Flight to Turn Around

A JetBlue passenger has been hit with a $14,500 civil penalty after refusing to wear a mask, forcing the plane to return to its departure airport.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) charged the passenger for failing to comply with the airline’s mask policy. The flight was scheduled to leave John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York and land in the Dominican Republic on Dec. 23 but was rerouted back, USA Today reports.

“The passenger crowded the traveler sitting next to him, spoke loudly, and refused to wear his face mask,” the FAA stated. “Flight attendants moved the other passenger to a different seat after they complained about the man’s behavior.”

According to the FFA, the passenger also continued to drink alcohol that he had brought on board and was behaving in a disorderly fashion. A flight attendant on board spoke to the man about the airline’s mask policy, but he disregarded her warnings. According to the statement, she gave two additional warnings about the FAA’s policy about drinking the alcohol. Still, he continued to consume the beverages without wearing a mask.

“A flight attendant issued the passenger a ‘Notice to Cease Illegal and Objectionable Behavior,’ and the cabin crew notified the captain about his actions two separate times,” the FAA said. “As a result of the passenger’s actions, the captain declared an emergency and returned to JFK.”

Since the time of the flight, the FAA has cracked down on its policies. Passengers who refuse to wear masks or display other disorderly behavior will no longer be given warnings. This particular passenger has 30 days to respond to the FAA’s “enforcement letter.”

According to the FAA, its maximum fine for unruly behavior is $35,000, so technically, he caught a bit of a break. Do you think the fine he’s facing is fair? How do you feel about the mask policy on planes?