Effective immediately, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey will slap fines on disruptive passengers who delay flights, reports Metro.
The announcement, made Monday, will apply to passengers at John F. Kennedy International Airport, LaGuardia Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport. Alec Baldwin's infamous Words With Friends incident was cited by officials as the type of incident this measure would stop.
"We can’t allow inconsiderate cell phone users on airplanes to delay flights," Port Authority Executive Director Pat Foye told CBS New York. “It’s unacceptable. It causes people to miss connections, it costs the airlines money and it adds to the stress on the air traffic’s control system up and down the East Coast.”
According to MSNBC, it costs U.S. passenger airlines $5,867 per hour to operate. And, in 2011 police responded to nearly 400 incidents involving disruptive passengers -- most of which simply wouldn't turn off an electronic device.
The move is not without its critics however. To MSNBC, Brandon M. Macsata, executive director of the Association for Airline Passenger Rights, notes that it might be unfair to single out passengers for system-wide problems. For example, what of the family that was kicked off a plane because of its crying toddler? Or, would the woman whose cat got loose in a Air Canada cockpit and caused a four-hour delay be fined?
Additionally, "the proposal by the Port Authority may be outside their domain and jurisdiction since activities involving the operation of aircraft in interstate commerce are the sole purview of the Federal Government," David Stempler of The Air Travelers Association told CBS.
There is no exact figure for the fines, but they will be in the neighborhood of thousands of dollars. Much of this money will go back to the airlines to offset their costs.