A Southwest Airlines passenger allegedly assaulted a flight attendant, knocking out two of her teeth on a California flight last weekend, a union president said.
“Unfortunately, this is just one of many occurrences,” Lyn Montgomery said. She added there have been 477 cases of what officials considered to be “misconduct” from passengers aboard Southwest planes from April 8 to May 15.
On Tuesday, a spokesman for Southwest Airlines confirmed the assault on one of their flight attendants. He said the suspect was a female passenger and the incident occurred on board Flight 700 on Sunday. The aircraft left Sacramento at 7:35 a.m. and landed in San Diego shortly before 9:00 a.m.
“The passenger repeatedly ignored standard in-flight instructions and became verbally and physically abusive upon landing,” spokesman Chris Mainz said. He said police officers wanted to meet the plane as soon as it landed in San Diego where they quickly took the suspect into custody.
Authorities immediately took the victim to a local hospital after the assault to be treated for her injuries. To help her in her recovery, Southwest got a friend of the victim and flew her out to care for her.
On Monday, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said they received 2,500 incidents of unruly passengers this year from airlines across the United States. They said about 1,900 of those cases were when the passengers refused to wear face masks as required by federal authorities.
“I’ve been in the industry since 1992, and this is the worst ever. People seem to be more angry. When they’re asked to do something, compliance seems to be more difficult,” Montgomery said during an interview, Mercury News reported.
Flight attendants from Southwest and most other airlines are trained to de-escalate situations with irate passengers. However, Montgomery said those techniques are becoming less and less effective as more and more passengers are starting to challenge authorities of the crew on board.