Of the more than 6,000 unruly passenger reports the FAA has received since the beginning of last year, the majority of them (71%) have been mask-related incidents. Federal law requires all airline passengers to wear masks in airports and onboard planes, but the regulation has triggered backlash on some flights. Last month, for example, an international American Airlines flight en route to London had to turn back to Miami after a passenger refused to wear her mask.

US airlines and their unions have been pressing the FAA to push for criminal prosecution in cases of severe passenger disruptions. In November a man faced federal charges of assault and interfering with a flight crew after he allegedly punched a flight attendant on a plane from New York City to Santa Ana, California.

The FAA didn’t say how many of the 80 cases they’ve referred to the FBI over the past year led to charges.

Calls for a no-fly list grow

As more reports of unruly passengers have circulated on social media in recent weeks, the Biden administration has been working with major US airlines and unions to develop a no-fly list that would ban some unruly passengers from commercial fights. Both Delta and United have already banned passengers from their flights for refusing mask requirements.

The proposition of a no-fly list has raised concerns among human rights groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union, which warned that airline passengers on an already existing list of alleged terrorists have been subject to abuse and unfair treatment for years. On Feb. 14 a group of eight Republican senators also voiced opposition to a no-fly list in a letter (pdf) to US attorney general Merrick Garland, saying such a measure would “seemingly equate” unruly passengers to terrorists.

📬 Sign up for the Daily Brief

Our free, fast, and fun briefing on the global economy, delivered every weekday morning.