An unruly passenger onboard a Spirit Airlines flight from Fort Lauderdale to Nashville punched a flight attendant in the face, dragged another across the floor by her ponytail and charged at the aircraft door while screaming “I’m getting off this plane” according to charges filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Tennessee.
Amanda Renee Henry, 43, of Lebanon, Tennessee, faces a maximum sentence of 20 years behind bars and a $250,000 fine if found guilty of interference with a crew member following the November 27, 2021, incident.
Henry first came to the attention of flight attendants after two passengers asked to switch seats so that they were no longer near her because Henry was making them feel uncomfortable with “lewd advances” and unwelcome “flirtatious” behavior.
Flight attendants moved the passengers but Henry became “irate and belligerent” according to the criminal complaint which was unsealed on Tuesday. Because she appeared drunk, the flight attendants decided to move her from the emergency exit row she was sat in for safety reasons.
At first, Henry refused to budge but then grabbed her carry-on and then ran towards the front of the plane screaming “I’m getting off this plane”.
One flight attendant managed to block the main cabin door and then attempted to restrain Henry. Prosecutors allege Henry punched one flight attendant in the face and dragged another by her ponytail.
Despite the violent assault, the flight attendants eventually managed to get plastic flex cuffs around Henry’s ankles, although weren’t able to cuff her hands. She was moved to another seat where an off duty firefighter offered to sit with Henry and keep her calm.
Henry was arrested on arrival at Nashville airport and initially charged with public intoxication. U.S. Attorney Mark Wildasin, however, noted that prosecutors were pursuing the case and had filed ‘interference with crew member’ charges because of directions from the Attorney General to clamp down on unruly airline passenger behavior.
“Those whose behavior disrupts or otherwise endangers the safety of persons on aircrafts should expect to face federal charges,” commented Wildasin.
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.