NYC-area Air Travelers May Be Fined for Disruptive Behavior

Air travelers flying out of New York City-area airports may be used to checked baggage fees and buying a seat with extra legroom, but there's a new fee under consideration that could even land them in court.

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The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is considering ways to take civil action against disruptive fliers who cause delays that require airport police intervention at the area's three major airports - Newark Liberty, LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy International.

According to a Port Authority spokesperson, there were 400 calls last year to airport police regarding passengers who refused to comply with airline personnel in turning off their electronic devices in preparation for taxi and takeoff. The actual number of people disobeying the directive is likely much higher, though, as police are generally only called for the most extreme cases of disruption.

"On a regular basis we're having issues where planes have to come back to the gate because of disruptive passengers," said Port Authority spokesperson Steve Coleman. "We're looking to cut down on the number of incidents that require police response and reduce the amount of time and money airlines lose because of these incidents."

Jurisdictional issues may delay the introduction of this new type of fine and civil action as the FBI and Federal Aviation Administration have authority over what happens onboard aircraft. For the time being, the airport authority is relying on the use of social media and posted signs to strongly remind air travelers to follow the instructions of airline crewmembers.