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In-Flight Entertainment: Is Brawling on a Plane a Federal Offense?

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By Christopher Coble, Esq. on March 10, 2016 3:20 PM

When five female passengers start throwing haymakers some 30,000 feet over the Cornhusker State, you start to wonder: which long arm of the law will be prosecuting these productive members of society? The cops in Baltimore, where the flight originated? Or in LA, where we're going to land? Doesn't the Federal Aviation Administration have jurisdiction over the skies?

Unfortunately, we might not get that answer -- these lucky ladies may have avoided all charges.

Putting the Boom in Boom Box

According to Spirit Airlines spokesman Paul Berry, the trouble all started when two female passengers began playing loud music on a portable speaker. Berry told the Los Angeles Times other passengers complained, but the women were defiant. "Then to provoke the other customer they were holding up their boom box in the air, waving it around," he said.

When a second group of passengers approached the tow women, a brawl ensued, complete with screeching, hair pulling, and landed punches. From reports, it's unclear exactly how far along the flight was at the time of the brawl, but considering it wasn't diverted to another airport, they were probably pretty close to LAX.

Mutual Kombat

The Times reports that LAX officers met the plane at the gate, and removed the five women involved in the fight. Officer Rob Pedregon referred to it as a "mutual combat situation." While the FBI was called in to investigate the matter, spokeswoman Laura Eimiller told the Times no charges had been filed.

Which is fortunate the women on both sides of the altercation. Disobeying or interfering with a flight crew can mean 20 years in jail and a $250,000 fine. And the FAA can impose similarly harsh civil penalties, up to $25,000 per violation of flight regulations. Something to bear in mind the next time you feel like sharing your exquisite music taste with the rest of the plane.

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