A grand jury has indicted a 21-year-old man with two federal crimes for his alleged disruptive and violent conduct onboard a Delta Air Lines flight from Hawaii to Seattle on Christmas Eve last year.
Ryan Cajimat of Kapolei, Hawaii, faces charges of interference with flight crew members and attendants and assault within a special aircraft jurisdiction. He is due to appear for arraignment on November 18, 2021, in a Seattle court.
If found guilty, Cajimat faces a maximum penalty for interfering with a flight crew member of 20 years imprisonment plus a $250,000 fine, while the charge of assault is punishable with a prison term of up to one year and a $100,000 fine.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has already slapped Cajimat with a record $52,500 civil penalty for his alleged behavior during the flight. The maximum the FAA can fine unruly passengers is normally capped at $37,000 but the agency judged the case to be so serious that it broke its own sentencing guidelines.
According to court documents, Cajimat became disruptive around two hours prior to landing in Seattle and attempted to break into the flight deck.
He struggled with flight attendants who attempted to stop him and disobeyed their instructions. “One flight attendant was punched in the face twice,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington said in a statement on Friday.
Cajimat was subdued and restrained with plasticuffs but he managed to break free from the cuffs and struck one of the flight attendants again. He was restrained and handcuffed once more and then removed by law enforcement on arrival in Seattle.
The indictment comes in the same week that an American Airlines flight attendant was allegedly punched at least twice in the face in an unprovoked attack by an unruly passenger. American Airlines chief executive Doug Parker has demanded the suspect be prosecuted to the fullest extent possible by law.
Parker believes unruly passengers should face “aggressive criminal prosecution”
“Let me assure you, American Airlines will not tolerate airport or inflight misconduct of any kind, particularly toward our crew members or airport team,” Parker said in an Instagram video post following the incident.
The Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) which represents crew members at American Airlines has called for a centralized ‘no-fly’ list to be set up so that a travel ban from one airline will mean a travel ban from all airlines.
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.