FAA seeks $27,500 from passenger it says hit air attendant

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FILE – In this Dec. 10, 2020, file photo, an electronic sign warns travelers to maintain social distance in the terminal of Denver International Airport in Denver. A passenger who allegedly hit a flight attendant after an argument over wearing a face mask could soon be $27,500 poorer. The Federal Aviation Administration said Friday, Feb. 26, 2021 that it is proposing the financial penalty against a person who became combative after they and a companion were asked to leave a Delta Air Lines flight in October. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal officials are seeking a $27,500 civil penalty against an airline passenger who allegedly struck a flight attendant who asked the woman and her companion to leave the plane after a dispute over wearing a face mask.

The confrontation on board a Delta Air Lines flight departing from Miami International Airport for Atlanta began when the passenger’s companion refused to wear a mask, secure his tray table or fasten his seatbelt, the Federal Aviation Administration said Friday. Delta, like most airlines, requires most passengers to wear masks except when eating or drinking.

Pilots returned the plane to the gate, and the pair was asked to disembark. The female passenger began yelling at the flight attendant and other passengers, then hit the flight attendant under her left eye, according to the FAA.

The FAA did not identify the passengers. The woman has 30 days to respond to the proposed penalty. The FAA said it appears that she violated a federal regulation against assaulting a crew member, which carries a civil penalty of up to $35,000.

The FAA announced tighter enforcement of rules against disturbances on planes after several rowdy incidents in early January on flights to and from Washington.

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