The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has reported the single highest weekly case number of unruly passengers last week, the worst report of the summer.
According to Good Morning America , the FAA has investigated more than 550 potential federal law violations this year, the highest since 1995.
The FAA holds to a zero-tolerance policy towards unruly passengers, who can be fined up to $52,500 and be sentenced to as long as twenty years in prison.
The FAA has received 3,420 reports of unruly passengers since the beginning of the year. The overwhelming majority of these incidents occurred from the passengers’ refusals to wear a mask for the duration of their flights.
In late June, six airlines workers’ unions and four airline associations like Airlines for America and the Air Line Pilots Association signed a letter asking for United States Attorney Merrick Garland to begin criminally prosecuting unruly passengers to send a stronger message that this behavior will not be tolerated.
"The federal government should send a strong and consistent message through criminal enforcement that compliance with federal law and upholding aviation safety are of paramount importance," the letter said.
Flight attendants have especially come under abuse from these passengers. Back in May, a Southwest Airlines flight attendant lost two teeth during a confrontation with a passenger who became abusive after refusing to wear her seatbelt.
The FAA has also resumed a voluntary training program to help crew members learn self-defense against a potential abusive passenger and offer ways to identify and defuse potential threats.
"It should be a recurring training so that we can create that muscle memory that you need to be able to respond at a moment's notice," Sara Nelson, the president of the Association of Flight Attendants, told ABC News. "But even taking the course one time changed my attitude, gave me a better understanding about how to stand, how to hold myself, how to protect myself if someone is coming at me."
Air travel is considered public transportation. Passengers must adhere to federal laws and regulations while on-board and respect for others and the rules enforced.