A 78-year-old woman allegedly bit a flight attendant on the arm after hitting a fellow passenger in the face during a wild flight from New Zealand to the Gold Coast, Australia, at the end of the last month.
Announcing the arrest, the Australian Federal Police said the flight attendant was allegedly assaulted when she attempted to intervene in an argument that had broken out onboard the January 29 flight.
The elderly woman’s arrest is just one of 49 reported by the AFP in separate incidents at Australia’s major airports in little more than a month, including the busy Christmas and School Holiday season.
Across nine of Australia’s busiest airports, police charged 49 people with a total of 69 offences that took place between December 20 and January 29. Charges include assault and drug possession, as well as various weapons offences.
The 78-year-old woman accused of biting a flight attendant has been ordered to appear in court on April 3.
As well as the criminal charges, another 24 people were handed so-called infringement notices for minor offences such as public drunkenness and unruly behaviour.
One of those was a 47-year-old man who forced a plane to divert back to Sydney on January 9 after downing Duty Free booze and becoming abusive towards flight attendants and passengers.
In another incident, a 41-year-old man allegedly downed nearly a litre of scotch on a flight from New Zealand to Sydney and lost consciousness partway through the flight. On arrival in Australia, the man became abusive towards staff and had to be hospitalised because he was so drunk.
The arrests formed part of a special police operation codenamed Operation Sleigh to crack down on unruly behaviour. Australian police have seen a significant uptick in disruptive passengers following the lifting of pandemic travel restrictions, and the AFP is keen to bring a swift end to the trend.
During the course of 2022, the AFP said it charged 360 people with around 520 offences.
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.