A man punched an American Airlines flight attendant in the stomach before launching an expletive-laden attack on the crewmember after being asked to stop kicking the seat in front during a flight from Dallas Fort Worth to Bozeman on Wednesday, court records allege.
Keith Edward Fagiana has been charged with interference with flight crew, a crime that carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in jail and a $250,000 fine. Fagiana remains in custody following his arrest on January 3.
According to an FBI affidavit filed in a Texas district court, the pilots of American Airlines flight AA1497 were forced to make an emergency diversion to Amarillo Airport after declaring a Level 2 security threat – internationally recognized as ‘physically abusive behavior’.
The pilots declared the emergency after flight attendants had already restrained Fagiana and placed him into flexcuffs after he launched his attack on a male flight attendant.
The attack happened in the middle of the beverage service when a passenger in the last row of First Class complained to the flight attendant that the man sitting behind them was ‘violently’ kicking their seat.
The flight attendant asked Fagiana to stop kicking the seat but was met with a torrent of expletives before Fagiana unexpectedly punched him in the stomach. The flight attendant yelled out, “What the f*** are you doing?” as Fagiana stood up and punched the crewmember at least three more times.
Other passengers and flight attendants rushed into the melee and managed to restrain Fagiana and move him to an empty row of seats, where he was secured for the rest of the flight.
Upon landing, local law enforcement removed Fagiana from the Boeing 737 aircraft and took him to the airport police office. Fagiana complained that the flexcuffs were hurting him, so the officers decided to swap out the plastic cuffs for steel cuffs.
As they were changing out the cuffs, Fagiana allegedly kicked one of the officers in the groin and spat on them, prompting the escorting officers to put a spit hood over Fagiana’s face.
During an initial police interview, Fagiana said he was connecting from Las Vegas, where he had drunk Captain Morgans rum at various bars ahead of his flight. Fagiana claimed that he couldn’t remember what happened on the flight but admitted to fighting the escorting police officers because he didn’t want to be arrested.
In a statement, a spokesperson for American Airlines commented: “Act of violence are not tolerated by American Airlines and we are committed to working closely with law enforcement in their investigation”>
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.