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Photo: David Ryder / Getty Images

The Federal Aviation Administration announced a new "zero tolerance policy" toward unruly airline passengers, who could face fines of up to $35,000 and imprisonment for interfering with crew members.

Why it matters: The crackdown comes after the agency saw a "disturbing increase in incidents" of passengers disrupting flights with "threatening or violent behavior" stemming from their refusal to wear masks and recent violence at the U.S. Capitol.

Between the lines: In the past, the FAA responded to unruly passenger incidents with a variety of methods ranging from warnings and counseling to civil penalties.

  • Under the new order, in effect through March 30, the FAA will pursue legal action with no warning for anyone who assaults, threatens, intimidates or interferes with a crew member.
  • United Airlines told ABC News it has banned 60 people for mask violations in the last week alone, which is higher than their previous week averages.
  • Two days after the Capitol riot, videos showed passengers on an American flight en route from D.C. to Phoenix chanting "USA" and "Fight For Trump," eventually causing the pilot to threaten to divert the plane to Kansas if passengers didn't "behave."

What they're saying: "First strike and you're out. We applaud FAA Administrator (Steve) Dickson for taking this clear stand for our safety and security," Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, said in a statement.

Go deeper

Big Tech scrambles to prevent inauguration threats

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Big Tech companies are scrambling to take action to prevent Inauguration Day violence, taking matters into their own hands after the government was caught ill-prepared for last week's Capitol siege.

What's happening: Major firms are taking a range of steps to stop their platforms from being used to plan, incite or carry out violent acts in Washington, D.C.

California wildfire explodes in size, destroys historic town

Battalion Chief Sergio Mora looks on as the Dixie fire burns through downtown Greenville, Calif. on Aug. 4, 2021. Photo: Josh EdelsonAFP via Getty Images

The small Sierra town of Greenville, California, was heavily damaged on Wednesday night into early Thursday as the Dixie Fire surged northward amid high winds, extremely dry air and hot temperatures.

The latest: The Dixie Fire, California's biggest blaze, continued to threaten communities in Plumas County into Thursday night, as more mandatory evacuation orders were issued in the region.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Top labor leader Richard Trumka dies unexpectedly at 72

Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka, who led the largest federation of unions in the country for over a decade, has died at 72.

The big picture: Trumka began working as a coal miner in 1968 and would go on to dedicate his life to the labor movement, including as president of the 12.5 million-member AFL-CIO beginning in 2009.