Amidst an alarming rise in airline passengers being total assholes to their fellow passengers and flight crews while crammed into a giant bus in the sky, here’s quite possibly the worst example of passengers gone wild: on Sunday, a woman on a Southwest Airlines flight punched a flight attendant in the face after being asked to keep her seat belt on while the plane was landing, causing the flight attendant to subsequently lose two teeth.
According to Southwest Airlines spokesperson Chris Mainz, the woman who attacked the flight attendant “repeatedly ignored standard inflight instructions (tray table in upright position, seat belt, etc.) and became verbally and physically abusive upon landing.”
CBS News obtained video of the violent incident, and all I can say is, yikes! In the video, you can see the flight attendant’s bloodied and bruised face after the passenger hit her repeatedly in the face and head before another passenger intervened.
The woman was subsequently arrested and charged with a felony battery count. But this is part of a pattern. Earlier this month, the Federal Aviation Administration reported that there has been a “dramatic increase” in passengers behaving badly while on planes, even as the total number of people flying still remains below 2019 levels. According to the agency’s numbers, in the first five months of the year, about 2,500 cases of airline passengers being total dicks have been reported—an incredible twenty-fold increase compared to a typical year.
More, via NBC News:
The behavior in question includes passengers refusing to wear masks, drinking excessively and engaging in alleged physical or verbal assault, including what the agency describes as political intimidation and harassment of lawmakers.
In Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for example, a fistfight broke out amid a dispute over mask-wearing. In Washington, D.C., a passenger was escorted off a flight after arguing with flight attendants over the mask rule.
In another case, a flight bound for Los Angeles was diverted to Denver and forced to make an emergency landing after a passenger allegedly tried to open an emergency exit.
But people may want to think twice before punching their flight attendant. Not only might you be arrested, but it could also be costly. The FAA is cracking down on what it calls “unruly and dangerous behavior,” which includes fining passengers up to $35,000.
More, from CBS News:
The incident came a day before the Federal Aviation Administration fined a passenger $52,500 for trying to open the cockpit door and hit a flight attendant in the face twice on a Delta Air Lines flight in late December.
The FAA also said it was seeking fines against three other passengers for behavior including refusing to wear a mask and for threatening others. They include:
A woman facing a $9,000 fine for continually refusing to wear a mask properly and cursing at flight attendants on a February 15 Allegiant Air flight from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, to Knoxville, Tennessee.
A passenger on a February 5 flight facing a fine of $18,500 for bringing his own alcohol on board a JetBlue flight from Fort Lauderdale to Las Vegas and refusing to stop drinking it when asked by flight attendants. The FAA said he also kept removing his face mask and wearing it improperly despite the directions of flight attendants.
In a statement emailed to Jezebel, Sara Nelson, the president of the Association of Flight Attentions-CWA International, blamed the rise in bad behavior in part on the politicization of face masks. “Masks were politicized and violence was stoked,” Nelson wrote. “We are bearing the brunt of this every day at work, including serious injury. It’s dangerous, unacceptable, and it’s got to stop.”
Nelson added, “We’ve never before seen aggression and violence on our planes like we have in the past five months.” She urged people to not be assholes, which, good luck, truly! “Everyone wants to have the freedom of flight. Listen up and do your part,” she said. “We’re truly all in this together.”