Photo Credit: Mario Tama
Passenger Arrested After Punching Flight Attendant In Face Causing Broken Bones
An American Airlines flight was diverted after a passenger punched a flight attendant in the nose, causing bones to break.
The plane traveling from New York City to Santa Ana, California made an emergency landing in Denver and the passenger was arrested once the plane landed and taxied to the gate, the airline confirmed.
The flight attendant was physically attacked after she bumped into a passenger during the flight. She immediately apologized, but the passenger reportedly approached the flight attendant and punched her in the face twice, ABC News reports.
“It’s not surprising,” Paul Hartshorn Jr, the national communications chair for The Association of Professional Flight Attendants, told ABC News.
The union represents American Airlines’ more than 25,000 flight attendants.
He adds, “We’ve been dealing with this for 20 months now… these physical attacks on our crew members, on our flight attendants… on our flights.”
Hartshorn said the flight attendant who was attacked is back home, healing after sustaining broken bones to her face.
Meanwhile, the passenger is banned from all American Airline flights.
Sadly, this latest act of violence isn’t an isolated incident.
Airlines and the unions that represent aviation employees have been calling on the federal government to create harsher penalties for those who assault flight crews after an increase in unruly passengers.
“This is happening far too often,” American Airlines CEO Doug Parker said in a video statement following the incident, we had one of the worst displays of unruly behavior we’ve ever witnessed. Since the pandemic began, we’ve been seeing an increase in flight attendant assaults. We’ve been seeing verbal assaults on our flight attendants every day, it’s safe to say, and physical attacks increasing.”
Data from the FAA shows that between Jan. 1 and Oct. 26, there were 4,941 reports of unruly passengers across all airlines.
The increase in assaults prompted the TSA to relaunch its self-defense training for flight crew members. The program was created after 9/11 and stopped during the pandemic.
“We’ve got to get a handle on this,” Hartshorn said. “We’ve got to stop abusing each other.”