FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Passengers and crew members restrained a passenger who was caught on video slugging a flight attendant on an American Airlines flight.
The FBI said Thursday that the man was arrested after the plane landed in Los Angeles and took the man off the plane.
The incident happened Wednesday on a flight from San Jose del Cabo in Mexico to Los Angeles International Airport. Video posted by another passenger showed the man running down the aisle and punching a male flight attendant in the back of the head or neck as the crew member walked in the other direction.
The president of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, the union representing American's cabin crews, said the passenger had exhibited “dangerous, life-threatening behavior.”
“Thankfully, the crew and passengers subdued the passenger, and the flight landed safely,” said the union official, Julie Hedrick. “This violent behavior puts the safety of all passengers and crew in jeopardy and must stop.”
Airline spokesman Curtis Blessing said American has banned the man from ever traveling on the airline. He said American was helping law enforcement investigate the incident.
According to Federal Aviation Administration figures, airlines have reported nearly 2,000 incidents involving unruly passengers this year, down from nearly 6,000 last year even with a 38% increase in U.S. air travelers.
Most of the incidents in 2021 and early 2022 involved passengers who refused to wear face masks, but the federal requirement for masks on planes and public transportation was struck down by a federal judge in April.
Government figures don’t indicate how often the incidents turn violent, although it appears to be rare. The most notorious case involved a young woman who punched a Southwest flight attendant, breaking some of her teeth, on a plane in California. The woman was sentenced to 15 months in prison.