Southwest Airlines has confirmed that one of its flight attendants was seriously assaulted by a passenger during a flight on Sunday morning with the airline union claiming the injured flight attendant lost two teeth after being punched in the face.
“This past weekend, one of our flight attendants was seriously assaulted, resulting in injuries to the face and a loss of two teeth,” wrote Lyn Montgomery, president of Transport Workers Union (TWU) Local 556 branch which represents Southwest flight attendants in a leaked letter to the airline’s chief executive.
“Unfortunately, this is just one of many occurrences. I write to you today because we cannot tolerate our beloved cohearts (Southwest Airlines employees) being abused in such a manner, and because I am asking for your help and leadership in ending these travesties,” the letter continues.
In an emailed statement, a spokesperson for Southwest Airlines confirmed that one of its flight attendants was physically assaulted by a passenger during flight WN700 from Sacramento to San Diego on Sunday morning.
“The passenger repeatedly ignored standard inflight instructions and became verbally and physically abusive upon landing,” the spokesperson explained.
“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, who are responsible for the safety of our passengers.”
Montgomery revealed there had been 477 passenger ‘misconduct’ reports on Southwest in just over a month between April 8 and May 15. “This unprecedented number of incidents has reached an intolerable level, with passenger non-compliance events also becoming more aggressive in nature,” she told Southwest CEO Gary Kelly in the letter.
“The attitudes and behaviors of the flying public have, unfortunately, declined,” Montgomery complained, urging Southwest to put in more safeguards to protect employees.
The flight attendant union has urged Southwest to keep alcohol sales suspended owing to the bad behavior of the traveling public while asking for new announcements that will tell passengers that egregious behavior will land them with a lifetime ban from flying Southwest, as well as criminal charges which could include imprisonment.
On Monday, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced that it has received over 2,500 unruly passenger behavior reports from airlines since January. The agency is taking a zero-tolerance approach to disruptive passengers, threatening civil penalties of up to $35,000 for the first offence.
The FAA announced a slew of new fines yesterday against a range of passengers who had refused to wear face masks, threatened and assaulted flight attendants, and abused other passengers.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.
The f/a probably deserved it. Southwest flight attendants are a half notch above Spirit flight attendants…. but Spirit flight attendants are all hoodrats so they know how to throw a punch. The f/a found the wrong passenger to harass.