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Airline Manager Attacked by Passenger Being Deplaned

10 Dec, 2023 Liz Carey

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Miami, FL ( – An American Airlines manager was hospitalized with permanent damage after she was attacked by a passenger who was being deplaned.

Officials in Miami said the passenger, Bruno Luke Machiavelo, 29, from Darien, Conn., was on an American Airlines flight from Miami International Airport to New York City’s LaGuardia Airport on Nov. 28. According to police reports, Machiavelo was onboard the flight that had not yet taken off when he told a flight attendant he suffered from panic attacks and needed his medication that was in his checked baggage.

When the flight attendant explained to Machiavelo that she couldn’t retrieve his medication from his checked baggage, Machiavelo began to argue with the flight attendant, telling them he “took planes down with his panic attacks in the past.”

The flight crew then decided to remove Machiavelo from the aircraft. When the American Airlines manager approached Machiavelo, he began to scream and push the manager away from him. Later, as he was exiting the aircraft, Machiavelo reportedly punched the manager several times in the face. Machiavelo then threw the manager to the floor, causing her head to hit the jetbridge. The manager, who has not been identified, was hospitalized and has permanent scarring to her face and head, police reports said.

After attacking the manager, Machiavelo ran off the plane, pushing over a gate agent and causing her to fall to the floor. The report said the gate agent’s hands were injured as a result.

Miami-Dade Police officers were called by American Airlines employees and were able to arrest Machiavelo who was on the floor screaming and kicking while other passengers tried to detain him by holding him down.

Machiavelo resisted the officers initially but was eventually taken into custody before being taken to a local hospital.

American Airlines said its employee’s safety was its focus.

"Yesterday evening, law enforcement was requested at Miami International Airport due to a disturbance on the jetbridge where a customer physically assaulted a team member,” the company said in a statement. “Acts of violence against our colleagues are not tolerated by American Airlines and we are committed to working closely with law enforcement in their investigation. Our thoughts are with our team member, and we are ensuring they have the support they need at this time."

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, unruly passenger incidents like Machiavelo’s have been on the increase since 2021. While the rate of unruly passenger incidents has dropped by more than 80 percent since reaching a high of nearly 6,000 incidents in 2021, the FAA recently said the number of incidents this year, “show(s) there remains more work to do."

This year, the FAA has recorded 1,900 unruly passenger reports. In 2021, the number spiked to 5,793. Officials blamed the spike on mask mandates and passenger frustration over pandemic rules and regulations.

In comparison, the FAA recorded 1,161 unruly passenger incidents in 2019, 889 in 2018, and only 544 in 2017. Since adopting a Zero-Tolerance policy in late 2021, the FAA has referred more than 270 of the most severe cases of unruly passengers to the FBI for criminal prosecution.

In an interview with Forbes in October, Thom McDaniel, vice president of Transport Workers Union International and a Southwest Flight attendant, said the issue is an ongoing problem.

“Pre-pandemic, we would have assaults happening on airline workers at about 300 a year, and those increased by about 3,000% in 2020, and they're continuing to go on," he said.

This summer the Transport Workers Union held an awareness campaign at Newark Liberty International Airport to target the increasing incidents. Union flight attendants handed out red cards to travelers, asking them to support legislation that would ban passengers convicted of assaulting flight crews or security officers from flying.

In some cases, flight attendants said they fear for their safety before the plane even leaves the tarmac.

JetBlue flight attendant Tiffany Humes told the Associated Press that she has had to serve as a referee between passengers, break up fights and endure abuse from passengers for flight conditions she had no control over.

"We had an incident where the plane had to sit out on the tarmac and was delayed for two hours, and the crew felt so unsafe they used a cart to get behind just because customers were getting so upset and agitated with them," Humes said. "They take it out on crew members."

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    About The Author

    • Liz Carey

      Liz Carey has worked as a writer, reporter and editor for nearly 25 years. First, as an investigative reporter for Gannett and later as the Vice President of a local Chamber of Commerce, Carey has covered everything from local government to the statehouse to the aerospace industry. Her work as a reporter, as well as her work in the community, have led her to become an advocate for the working poor, as well as the small business owner.

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