and it’s about time!!! Airline and airport workers cheered Friday that criminal charges will be possible if they suffer physical or verbal abuse from a passenger.
The federal government, Department of Justice, has ruled that anyone who assaults an airport ticket agent will face the same fines and prison time as if they had attacked a Transportation Security Administration agent or other law enforcement officer.
The U.S. Department of Justice, in a letter to Congress, clarified this month that a federal law written to protect TSA agents and law enforcement officers in airports also applies to airline workers at the ticket counters and gates.
The Communication Workers of America, the union that represents airline workers, praised the ruling, saying it will help protect airline agents from being victims of air rage. The union helped collect more than 2,000 signatures urging the Justice Department to clarify the law.
Communications Workers of America, a union representing thousands of aviation workers has fought for 15 years to have the law cover airline and airport workers. Travelers regularly become angry in airports, sometimes throwing luggage at ticket agents or punching them, according to the union.
Candice Johnson, a spokeswoman for the CWA, said the union’s next challenge is to make sure that airlines push to have anyone who assaults their workers prosecuted under the federal law, not just state laws.
Rep. John Garamendi, D-Calif., headed a congressional letter in September to the Transportation and Justice departments asking for a broader interpretation of who is protected by the law. The departments have now agreed, according to Peter Kadzik, an assistant attorney general in the office of legislative affairs.
“We agree that this statute includes, but its very language, assaults on an ‘airport, or air carrier employee who has security duties within the airport,’” Kadzik wrote Garamendi on Jan. 5. “As such, we also agree that the statutory language considers not only TSA and law enforcement officers in this criminal offense, but also airport and air carrier employees who have security duties in the airport.”
The punishment for assaulting such workers is a fine of up to $250,000 and up to 10 years in prison.
Personally, I would also love to see them add the attacker to a national no fly list so they can’t fly on any airline, ever.