Coast-to-coast flight diverted after passenger assaults crew member, American Airlines says
(CNN) — A coast-to-coast flight was diverted to Denver on Wednesday night after a passenger “physically assaulted a flight attendant,” American Airlines said in a statement.
The airline said Flight 976 from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City to Santa Ana, California, landed in Denver safely where police “removed and apprehended the passenger.”
“We are outraged by the reports of what took place on board,” said airline spokesperson Curtis Blessing.
“We are working with the appropriate authorities to support our team member and ensure a proper outcome is reached, and the individual involved in this incident will not be allowed to travel with us in the future.”
The Federal Aviation Administration adopted a zero-tolerance policy for unruly passengers on board flights earlier this year. The agency said in August it had issued more than $1 million in fines to unruly passengers in 2021.
One $45,000 fine, announced in August, was against a passenger accused of throwing his luggage at another passenger and, while lying on the aisle floor, “grabbing a flight attendant by the ankles and putting his head up her skirt.”
In it’s latest update, the FAA said there had been 4,941 unruly passenger reports this year.
A survey by the Association of Flight Attendants released in July found that, of the 5,000 flight attendants surveyed, 85% said they’d dealt with unruly passengers in 2021.
Disruptive passengers had used sexist, racist and/or homophobic language, according to 61%, while 17% said they’d been a victim of a physical attack this year.
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