- American Airlines CEO Doug Parker said Thursday that unruly behavior on planes “has to stop.”
- It comes after American said a flight attendant was “physically assaulted” by a passenger on Wednesday.
- The passenger punched the attendant in the face, the association APFA told The Washington Post.
An American Airlines flight was diverted on Wednesday after a male passenger “physically assaulted” a female flight attendant, the carrier told Insider in a statement on Thursday. It said it had banned the passenger from future American flights.
The flight attendant was making her way through the first-class cabin when she bumped the passenger, Julie Hedrick, president of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA), which represents staff who fly for American, told The Washington Post on Thursday.
Hendrick told The Post that the flight attendant apologized, but that the passenger got up from his seat to confront her. He then punched her in the face, Hendrick said.
The flight attendant was taken to hospital for treatment of broken bones in her face, Hendrick told The Post, adding that the attendant was later released.
The APFA and American Airlines didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment on The Post’s article.
Reports of unruly passenger behavior have risen since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Flight attendants have reported being groped, attacked, and shouted at, and many say they fear for their safety.
The FAA’s website says that as of Tuesday it had received nearly 5,000 reports of unruly passengers this year, with 3,580 of those reports relating to people refusing to wear federally required face masks onboard aircraft.
“This type of behavior has to stop,” Parker said in the Instagram video. “American Airlines will not tolerate airport or inflight misconduct of any kind, particularly towards crew members and our airport team.”
Parker said American was pushing for the passenger to be “prosecuted to the fullest extent possible.”
The Denver airport police told Insider on Thursday that the FBI was investigating the incident. The Federal Aviation Administration also told Insider it would also investigate the situation.