On suspicion of brutally beating a flight attendant, a passenger on an American Airlines flight from Los Cabos, Mexico was detained upon arrival at Los Angeles International Airport on Wednesday afternoon.
The FBI has not yet released the identification of the male suspect, who was detained on suspicion of interfering with a member of the flight crew. The accused could receive a maximum sentence of 20 years in jail and a $20,000 fine if proven guilty.
According to witnesses on board American Airlines flight AA377, the violent assault allegedly took place when one of the flight attendants refused to let the passenger use the First Class restroom at the front of the Airbus A321 aircraft.
The two guys got into an argument in the aisle, and when the flight attendant turned around to proceed to the front galley, the suspect ran at him and punched him in the back of the head.
In a video captured by First Class traveler Barrie Livingston, the flight attendant stumbles forward and is seen grabbing a trolley to set up a barrier between the galley and the cabin as another flight attendant armed herself with flashy yellow flexicuffs.
In a video shot by Australian radio DJ Kent “Smallzy” Small, several First Class passengers leave their seats to assist the flight attendants. A short while later, the suspect is shown being held in flexicuffs.
According to a representative for the FBI’s Los Angeles office, who is looking into the incident, a criminal complaint might be filed in federal court as early as Thursday morning.
“American Airlines flight 377 with service from San José del Cabo (SJD) to Los Angeles (LAX) was met by law enforcement upon arrival due to an unruly passenger who physically assaulted a flight attendant. The aircraft landed safely and taxied to the gate where law enforcement removed the individual,” the airline said in a detailed statement.
Violence in the air: a friend was travelling from Cabo to LAX, when a passenger hit a flight attendant for not letting use him the first class bathroom. He was later restrained by other passengers and arrested upon touchdown. The video shot was by Barrie Livingstone pic.twitter.com/PntVqWyWs9
— Saad Mohseni (@saadmohseni) September 22, 2022
“Acts of violence against our team members are not tolerated by American Airlines. The individual involved in this incident will never be allowed to travel with us in the future, and we will work closely with law enforcement in their investigation,” an American Airlines spokesperson said.
“We thank our crew for their quick action and professionalism to ensure the safety of their fellow team members and customers on board. Our thoughts are with our injured flight attendant, and we are ensuring that they and their fellow crew members have the support they need at this time.”
Since the beginning of the year, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has received 1,973 formal reports regarding rowdy passengers as of September 20. The FAA has started 680 investigations and moved forward with its own enforcement action in 468 incidents as a result of those reports.
The number of disorderly occurrences is expected to decrease from 2021 levels, when the FAA was swamped with about 6,000 official reports, despite the strong rise in travel demand in 2022.
— Smallzy 🎧 (@Smallzy) September 22, 2022
As part of a zero-tolerance policy to stop disruptive in-flight incidents, the FAA fined disruptive passengers more than $5 million in civil fines in 2021.
Photo cover via Twitter: Saad Mohseni @saadmohseni