A military veteran in crisis was detained by officers from the Miami Dade Police Department and later hospitalized after going berserk and attacking American Airlines gate agents at Miami International Airport on Friday night.
Video footage showed the unmasked vet screaming profanities at airline staff after he was denied boarding as passengers and employees looked on. In what appeared to be an attempt to provoke a reaction, the man picked up and hurled barriers in a fit of rage.
Onlookers can be heard asking where the police are as the man continues to threaten employees. The Miami Police Department later tweeted that officers immediately responded to the incident after receiving a call for help from airport staff.
“This incident involved a military veteran in crisis,” the tweet explained. “Our Airport District officers immediately responded to the call by airport staff and transported him to a local hospital for treatment and evaluation. The MDPD is committed to the safety of all our residents and visitors.”
Before it was revealed that the man was apparently suffering from a mental health crisis, Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA-CWA) tweeted: “This one checks all the boxes. Criminal prosecution now!”
Nelson was responding to the fact that despite the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) being deluged with nearly 4,000 reports of unruly passenger behaviour the vast majority escape criminal prosecution. The FAA has slapped unruly passengers with over $1 million in civil penalties since the start of the year but the agency continues to press law enforcement to press criminal charges against more rule-breakers.
A spokesperson for American Airlines later said of the incident: “When traveling with us, we expect all customers to follow our policies and we will not tolerate violence of any kind toward our team members.”
“We thank our MIA team for their quick action and professionalism to ensure the safety of our customers and fellow team members.”
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.