American Airlines Flight Diverted After Flight Attendant Assaulted
An American Airlines flight between New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport and Orange County’s John Wayne Airport…
An American Airlines flight between New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport and Orange County’s John Wayne Airport had to be diverted following a passenger assaulting a female flight attendant. This incident is the last to make the news among many unruly passenger cases in 2021.
On Wednesday, American Airlines operated a flight, number AA976 between New York and Orange County, in California. The airline used an Airbus A321 transcon, registration N103NN, with a capacity for 102 passengers distributed in four classes.
While in-flight, a male passenger “physically assaulted” a female flight attendant, said American Airlines in a statement. Due to this incident, the crew decided to divert and landed at Denver International Airport.
As reported by Business Insider, American Airlines stated,
“The aircraft landed safely and taxied to the gate, where law enforcement removed and apprehended the passenger.”
Following the incident, American Airlines barred the passenger from flying ever again with the company. The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are investigating the incident.
The airline added,
“The individual involved in this incident will never be allowed to travel with American Airlines in the future, but we will not be satisfied until he has been prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”
The unruly passengers increase
In 2021, the FAA has had an increase in incidents involving unruly passengers all across the United States. These people have disrupted flights with threatening or violent behavior.
Up to October 26, 2021, there have been 4,941 unruly passenger reports in the US. According to the FAA, 3,580 incidents were related to the use of face masks onboard flights. The Administration has launched 923 investigations and initiated 216 enforcement cases.
The minimum fine for assaulting a crew member or a fellow passenger is around US$30,000, said the FAA.
Moreover, the FAA has launched a Zero Tolerance for Unruly and Dangerous Behavior Toolkit. FAA’s Administrator Steve Dickson signed an order directing a stricter legal enforcement policy against unruly airline passengers on January 13, 2021.
The FAA stated,
“Historically, the agency has addressed unruly-passenger incidents using a variety of methods ranging from warnings and counseling to civil penalties. Under the new zero-tolerance policy, FAA will not address these cases with warnings or counseling. The agency will pursue legal enforcement action against any passenger who assaults, threatens, intimidates, or interferes with airline crew members.”
The airline industry is worried
The rise in the number of incidents related to disruptive behavior has worried the airline industry all across the US.
Sara Nelson, the president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, recently said that the staggering increase in the number of incidents is a “new normal” that the industry won’t accept. She urged the government, airlines, airports, and stakeholders to take action together to keep on flying safely and friendly.
The latest national survey on the subject shows some alarming numbers:
- 85% of all respondents had dealt with unruly passengers as air travel picked up in the first half of 2021
- 58% had experienced at least five incidents this year
- 17% reported experiencing a physical incident.
Sara Nelson said,
“This survey confirms what we all know, the vitriol, verbal and physical abuse from a small group of passengers is completely out of control and is putting other passengers and flight crew at risk. This is not just about masks, as some have attempted to claim. There is a lot more going on here, and the solutions require a series of actions in coordination across aviation.”
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