Passenger Restrained With Duct Tape Fined $80K

( – An American Airlines passenger, Heather Wells, faces legal action from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) after failing to pay a huge fine. The incident occurred in July 2021 on a flight from Texas to North Carolina, where Wells allegedly attempted to open the emergency door in the middle of the flight. She also was violent towards the crew and other passengers.

Wells, 34, was fined more than $81,000 by the FAA in 2022 for her actions on the flight. After not paying the fine, the FAA filed a lawsuit in the federal court to collect the money.

According to the FAA, Wells fell into the aisle and threatened a flight attendant who tried to assist her. She then shoved the flight attendant to the floor and attempted to open the cabin door. During the incident, she kept hitting one flight attendant on the head and was eventually tied up in cuffs. After being restrained, she still tried to hit, bite, and spit at other passengers.

A deleted video from TikTok showed Wells eventually covered in duct tape attached to a seat by the window, with her mouth covered in the duct tape as well.

After the plane landed, Wells was still taped to her seat, with tape over her mouth. She remained seated while other passengers got off the plane. Paramedics and police were present at the gate; she was apprehended and taken for a mental health evaluation. American Airlines confirmed her restraint due to security concerns and placed her on a no-fly list.

The FAA’s fine reflects efforts to fight against recent instances of passengers disrupting flights with bad behavior, which surged during the pandemic-era. In 2024 alone, the FAA reported nearly 1,000 cases of unruly passengers, including over a hundred of those cases related to the passenger being drunk.

The FAA emphasized its commitment to legal enforcement against passengers who threaten crew members and passengers.

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