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American Airlines Flight Attendant Violently Assaulted By Passenger and Left With “Blood Splattered” Across Her Face

American Airlines Flight Attendant Violently Assaulted By Passenger and Left With “Blood Splattered” Across Her Face

An American Airlines flight attendant was left with blood splattered across the outside of her face mask after a passenger allegedly punched her at least twice in a violent assault during a flight between New York JFK and Santa Ana, California.

American Airlines flight AA976 was forced to divert to Denver on Wednesday afternoon where the suspect was detained by law enforcement on arrival.

Witnesses aboard the flight say the assault took place around halfway through the flight while the Airbus A321 jet was flying over Ohio. The dispute is said to have started because the suspect, who was sitting in First Class, was refusing to wear his face mask.

A spokesperson for American Airlines hit out at the suspect saying that the carrier would be seeking the strongest criminal charges possible.

“We are outraged by the reports of what took place on board. Acts of violence against our team members are not tolerated by American Airlines,” a spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

“We have engaged local law enforcement and the FBI and we are working with them to ensure they have all the information they need. The individual involved in this incident will never be allowed to travel with American Airlines in the future, but we will not be satisfied until he has been prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”

“This behavior must stop and aggressive enforcement and prosecution of the law is the best deterrent,” the statement continued.

“We thank our crew for their quick action and professionalism to ensure the safety of their fellow team members and customers on board. Our thoughts are with our injured flight attendant and ensuring that she and her fellow crew members have the support they need at this time.”

According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), nearly 5,000 unruly passenger incidents have been reported to the agency so far this year – around 72 per cent of unruly passenger incidents are connected to mask disputes according to FAA data.

The FAA has dished out over $1 million in civil penalties in an attempt to curb unruly passenger incidents but after a brief lull, the incident rate is once again starting to creep up.

FAA Secretary Steve Dickson has called on law enforcement agencies to push for criminal charges against unruly passengers over concerns that confusion over jurisdiction means that many perpetrators never face charges.

View Comment (1)
  • This isn’t an “unruly passenger” incident. This is an assault, and an event that compromises the safety of an entire aircraft when that crew member is no longer able to function and they’re below minimum staff.

    Since this is a violation of Federal law, the FBI should be arresting and US Attorneys prosecuting these folks for felonies, where applicable. They should also be civilly liable to the the airline for all costs incurred, including fuel, time, and injury costs as well as open to civil liability to every passenger on the plane.

    Don’t want to wear a mask? That’s fine – don’t agree to do it when you buy a ticket, check in, and take a seat. Find another way to exercise your right to travel – you don’t have any inherent right to fly.

    Note: not victim blaming but turning flight crew into credit card salespeople doesn’t help their image of authority, especially with recent AA program changes that show it’s a credit card loyalty program that happens to run an airline. People don’t respect used car salespeople/credit card hawkers the same as flight crew. AA should examine that change in professional demeanor and position for their crews to determine if they’re at least partially responsible for the lack of sense of authority. The flight crews work too hard to have that be lost – it’s critical to their job.

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