The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) says that it is issuing a civil penalty of $US10,500 against a JetBlue passenger. His disruptive behaviour included coughing and blowing his nose into a blanket.

The incident occurred on a flight from Fort Lauderdale to Los Angeles on December 27, 2020.

“The FAA alleges the passenger repeatedly ignored, and was abusive too, flight attendants who instructed him to wear a face mask,” the agency said in a statement. “The passenger’s disruptive behaviour diverted flight crew members from their duties.”

The man refused to wear a mask and said he didn’t “believe in corona”.

The FAA imposed what it called a zero-tolerance policy for passengers who fail to comply with crew orders following the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, when a spate of air travellers refused to wear masks in defiance of COVID-19 safety rules.

“The agency will pursue legal enforcement action against any passenger who assaults, threatens, intimidates, or interferes with airline crew members,” the FAA said at the time. “This dangerous behaviour can distract, disrupt, and threaten crew members’ safety functions.”

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) last month extended its mask orders for people in airports and on airplanes, trains and buses through September.