Southwest Airlines jet
A Southwest Airlines jet on a runway. Courtesy Southwest

The Federal Aviation Administration has announced more than $160,000 in proposed fines against intoxicated and unruly airline passengers, including a passenger on a San Diego-bound flight who allegedly sexually assaulted a flight attendant and smoked marijuana inside the plane’s lavatory.

The unidentified passenger is accused of drinking carried-on alcohol on an April 15 Southwest Airlines flight from San Jose to San Diego, prompting a flight attendant to tell the passenger it was prohibited.

The FAA — which has proposed fining the passenger $40,823 — alleges the passenger then sexually assaulted the flight attendant, and later smoked marijuana in the plane’s lavatory as it was descending into San Diego. Upon arrival, police arrested the passenger on suspicion of resisting arrest and public intoxication, according to the FAA.

The latest round of fines are part of what the agency has called “a disturbing increase in incidents where airline passengers have disrupted flights with threatening or violent behavior.”

The FAA says it has received nearly 300 reports of “passenger disturbances” stemming from alcohol and other intoxication since the beginning of the year.

It has also proposed fines of more than $1 million this year for passengers who have allegedly ignored flight crew instructions and/or threatened or assaulted members of a flight crew. As of Nov. 16, the agency has received 5,240 unruly passenger reports, with 3,798 related to face masks.

Earlier this year, federal prosecutors in San Diego filed felony charges against a woman for allegedly punching a flight attendant in the face multiple times during a flight to San Diego after the flight attendant asked the woman to fasten her seat belt, stow her tray table and wear her face mask properly during the plane’s descent.

–City News Service