85 TSA Officers Assaulted, Inflight Disturbances Jump 500%

FILE PHOTO: A passenger makes his way through Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington, Virginia

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. federal agencies are dealing with a rising number of unruly airline passengers on increasingly crowded airplanes, including thousands who have refused to wear masks.

The Federal Aviation Administration said Tuesday that since Jan. 1 it has received 3,509 unruly passenger reports, including 2,605 refusing to wear a mask. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) told a U.S. House panel Tuesday that since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic there have been over 85 physical assaults on TSA officers.

The TSA says inflight disturbances have risen from 2 incidents per 1 million screened in 2019 to 12 per 1 million in 2021.

The rising numbers of incidents come as U.S. air travel has hit a post February 2020 high as more Americans get vaccinated.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Andrea Ricci)