Black passenger intervenes after woman punches flight attendant in face
The Southwest Airlines aide had asked a woman to keep her seatbelt fastened during a Sacramento flight to San Diego.
As America opens itself up to post-pandemic travel, an incredibly dangerous, disturbing trend has emerged: Fighting on airplanes.
Just days after a video went viral of passengers fighting on Spirit Airlines, a flight attendant was physically assaulted Sunday on an enroute Southwest Airlines plane.
The flight attendant suffered punches directly to her face, resulting in the loss of two teeth. A Black male passenger intervened in the assault, which occurred after the plane’s aide asked a young white woman to keep her seatbelt fastened during a flight from Sacramento to San Diego.
The video, captured by a fellow passenger, was shared on Twitter by CBS News. “Southwest should give that male passenger free miles,” one commenter replied. “He’s the only reason that flight attendant didn’t end up with worse injuries.”
According to a CBS News report, there have been 477 passenger misconduct incidents on Southwest Airlines in the six weeks between April 8 and May 15.
In an open letter Monday to Southwest Chief Executive Officer Gary Kelly, Transport Workers Union leader Lyn Montgomery wrote, “This unprecedented number of incidents has reached an intolerable level, with passenger non-compliance events also becoming more aggressive in nature.”
She is asking for Southwest and the federal government to intervene to curb the “epidemic of aggression and assault” on America’s airplanes.
“Flight attendants are first responders in the sky who are focused on safety,” Montgomery maintained. “As people return to the skies, we are asking for everyone’s help in complying with flight attendant requests to help ensure a safe and fun atmosphere for all.”
The unidentified passenger was arrested upon the plane’s arrival to its San Diego destination. “The passenger repeatedly ignored standard inflight instructions and became verbally and physically abusive upon landing,” a Southwest official wrote in a statement. “Law enforcement officials were requested to meet the flight upon arrival, and the passenger was taken into custody.”
“We do not condone or tolerate verbal or physical abuse of our flight crews,” said the spokesperson, “who are responsible for the safety of our passengers.”
The incident last weekend is one of many that have taken place in the skies in recent months. A Delta Airlines passenger was fined $52,000 for attempting to open a cockpit door on a flight in December after assaulting a flight attendant on the plane. Other incidents include passengers drinking excessively and vocalizing threats.
The Federal Aviation Administration has received more than 2,500 reports of unruly passenger behavior in the past six months, and nearly 2,000 complaints of passengers who refuse to wear a face-covering on planes — which is federally-mandated to reduce the COVID-19 pandemic plaguing America.
According to CBS News, the federal no-fly list has swelled to more than 3,000 Americans. Airlines are pleading for support from the federal government, including the presence of more air marshals and tougher punishments.
“The flying public needs to understand that egregious behavior will result in being banned from flying with Southwest,” Montgomery wrote to Kelly. “No passenger should be removed from one flight only to be permitted to board the very next Southwest Airlines flight after a non-compliance incident.”