A passenger who allegedly punched a flight attendant in the back of the head on an American Airlines flight from Mexico to Los Angeles was taken into custody after the plane landed Wednesday,.
The carrier said in a statement that the incident occurred on flight 377 from San Jose del Cabo to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).
The FBI, which is investigating since the alleged attack took place on the flight, said the man was being held on suspicion of interfering with crew operations, a federal offense.
In a video taken by passenger Barry Livingston, a flight attendant is seen standing in the aisle facing the back of the plane and asking the passenger: “Are you threatening me? Are you threatening me?” He then turns around and starts heading towards the front of the plane.
At that point, the passenger is seen rushing towards him and punching him hard before returning to his seat.
Malik Earnest, a producer for KFMB-TV, the CBS affiliate in San Diego, who was on board, cited “witnesses” who said the flight attendants “helped restrain” the suspect until the flight landed. He was escorted off the plane by Los Angeles airport police.
His identity was not immediately released.
American Airlines issued a statement saying the passenger “physically assaulted a flight attendant” and “will never be allowed to travel with us again in the future.”
The Professional Flight Attendants Association, the union representing more than 24,000 American Airlines flight attendants, also publicly responded to the alleged assault in statement released on Thursday. The organization called the incident “dangerous”, “life-threatening” and part of similar situations that put flight attendants at risk.
“This type of violent behavior endangers the safety of all passengers and crew and must stop,” said AFPA National President Julie Hendrick. “APFA fully supports the injured crew members and will do everything possible to ensure that the passenger is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
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