Be careful the next time you get into a spat with a flight attendant before takeoff: The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey announced yesterday it will start fining passengers who delay planes.
The new rule is effective immediately, said Port Authority spokesman Steve Coleman.
The policy would apply to cases like Alec Baldwin, who officials said caused a December flight at LAX to be delayed when he refused to turn off his phone. Baldwin, who was too engrossed in playing the game "Words with Friends" to turn off his phone, was kicked off that flight.
Passengers who are so disruptive they cause planes to return to the gate can cost airlines thousands, Coleman told Metro.
"That causes significant delay for all the folks that are on the plane," he said. "It's also costly for the airplanes who are burning fuel needlessly."
While Coleman did not specify how much the specific fines will be, he said they would be in the range of thousands of dollars. Passengers who fight them will end up in civil court.
About 400 such passengers were arrested last year at the three New York City airports, which the Port Authority owns, he said. The real number of problematic passengers could be twice that, since that is only passengers who were actually arrested, Coleman said.
"We're very serious about correcting the problem," he said.
What's the most common complaint? Passengers who refuse to turn off electronics, escalating into a dispute with a flight attendant, who then tells the pilot. A pilot can decide whether to return the plane to the gate and call police, Coleman said.
You could be slapped with a fine if you delay the plane in any of the following scenarios:
1. Refusing to turn off electronic devices
2. Being intoxicated and causing a disruption. "A lot of times the intoxicated passengers are the ones that don't turn off the cell phones," Coleman noted.
3. Fighting with a flight attendant
4. Lighting a cigarette or refusing to put one out
5. Any kind of disagreement with a flight attendant, such as not sitting down if a flight attendant asks you to.