Man Kicked off Plane for Assaulting Flight Attendant as Incidents Near 5,800

27 Dec, 2021 Liz Carey

                               

Baltimore, MD (WorkersCompensation.com) – Yet another passenger has been kicked off a plane for grabbing and harassing a flight attendant, as the number of unruly passenger incidents on American flights continues to rise. 

According to WBFF in Baltimore, a man was escorted off of a Southwest flight from Baltimore to Phoenix after an altercation with a flight attendant. Video of the event shows the man walking up the aisle of the plane with a flight attendant following him. The man then turns around and says, “You just said, ‘If you’d like to be killed, keep on walking.’”  As the flight attendant tries to calm the man down and escort him off the plane, he insists the flight attendant said she was going to kill him. 

Passengers on the plane then speak to the man who tells them that flight attendants are throwing people off the planes out of the windows. As the flight attendant asks the man to lower his voice, he lunges at her, grabs her wrists and says, “Why would I lower my voice when you’re about to kill me?” Passengers on the plane then subdue the man and help flight crew members escort him off the plane. 

The incident is just the latest in a year of incidents, some of them violent, of unruly passengers. 

In just the past two weeks, the Federal Aviation Administration has recorded 226 reports of unruly passengers. On Dec. 7, the FAA reported 5,553 incidents of unruly passengers, with 1,017 being investigated and 292 being forwarded to law enforcement. On Monday, Dec. 21, the administration said that number had risen to 5,779 with 1,052 incidents resulting in an investigation, and 352 being referred to law enforcement. 

Some of the incidents of unruly passengers have resulted in injury to flight crew members. In one case, a passenger punched a flight attendant in the face, knocking out two of her teeth, in another where a passenger struck a flight attendant with a closed fist resulting in the flight attendant’s hospitalization. 

In January, the FAA instituted a Zero Tolerance Policy toward unruly passengers. Additionally, as part of the FAAs reauthorization bill, the agency increased the maximum amount it can assess as a penalty to unruly passengers from $25,000 up to $37,000 per violation. Incidents may have more than one violation, resulting in large fines, the FAA said. 

As part of a public service announcement campaign, the FAA asked airports to put up posters and play videos about the fines in airport bars and other public areas. In one set of videos, children talk about how unsafe fighting on planes is, including one youngster saying, “If they’re adults, they should know better.” In posters, the campaign outlines the amount of fines, including on that says, “You could have bought a brand new truck with $35,000, but instead you’re paying a fine because you punched a flight attendant.” 

Since the beginning of the year, the FAA has levied more than $1 million in fines to allegedly unruly passengers. While the administration can issue the civil penalties against unruly passengers, it has no authority to prosecute the cases as criminal and it provides passengers with several ways to get out of paying the penalties. 

“Federal regulations give individuals several opportunities to challenge the FAA’s fine. Because of this, we remain early in the process on fines collected,” FAA spokesperson Emma Duncan told Reuters. 

While passengers can pay the fine in full, they can also dispute the fine by providing evidence that the violation didn’t occur or doesn’t warrant the proposed penalty. Additionally, passengers can request a meeting to discuss the case with the FAA, request a hearing with an administrative law judge, appeal a judge’s decision with an FAA administrator or show that they are financially not able to pay the penalty. 

The FAA announced Tuesday that they were working to punish unruly passengers in other ways. In a statement, the FAA said it would be working with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to remove unruly passengers for TSA PreCheck screening eligibility. 

PreCheck screening allows passengers to get through security faster, and, the agencies said, is a privilege for low-risk travelers. The FAA said it would share information about unruly passengers with the TSA who could then decide whether or not to remove the passenger from PreCheck eligibility. 

“If you act out of line, you will wait in line,” FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said. “Our partnership aims to promote safe and responsible passenger behavior. One unruly incident is one too many.”  

Additionally, the TSA will provide the FAA with information to identify and locate unruly passengers so the FAA can serve them with penalty notices. 

“TSA has zero tolerance for the unruly behaviors, especially those involving physical assault occurring aboard aircraft. We have tremendous respect for airport staff, gate agents and flight crews that get people safely to their destinations,” said TSA Administrator David Pekoske. “This partnership with FAA will help ensure the safety and security of all passengers and hold those who violate federal regulations accountable for their actions.”

 


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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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