The incident took place during flight 976 from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York traveling to John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California. The incident led to the flight stopping in Denver where the passenger was arrested.
The attack reportedly occurred after the flight attendant accidentally bumped into a man while walking down the aisle in the first-class cabin. She promptly apologized, but the man stood up, confronted the attendant, and punched her in the face.
The passenger was detained in Denver. The attendant was taken to a local hospital for treatment for reported broken bones in her face and was later released.
American Airlines CEO Doug Parker posted a statement regarding the matter to Instagram.
“Last night, @AmericanAir had one of the worst displays we’ve seen, when a passenger violently assaulted one of our flight attendants. Thankfully, our flight attendant is recovering and we are making sure she and her fellow crew members have the support they need,” Parker said.
“The passenger, however, will never be allowed to fly American again and we are doing everything we can to ensure they are prosecuted to the fullest extent possible. But at the end of the day, while these interactions are not the norm, even one is too many, and they must stop,” he added.
Julie Hedrick, president of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, said more must be done to protect the safety of flight attendants.
“APFA has contacted AA Corporate Security and Management to do everything we can to see that this passenger faces criminal charges and is prosecuted. This passenger will not be flying on American again, but that does not address the root problem. We must continue to push the FAA and Department of Transportation to implement a national ‘No-Fly’list that encompasses all airlines,” she said in a statement.
The incident is one of a growing number of conflicts to take place on passenger airlines in recent months.
A Southwest Airlines flight attendant allegedly was assaulted by a passenger during a flight and lost several teeth, according to the president of the Southwest Airlines flight attendants’ union.
TWU Local 556 President Lyn Montgomery said that over the past weekend, “one of our flight attendants was seriously assaulted, resulting in injuries to the face and a loss of two teeth.”
She issued the letter in a bid to highlight misconduct incidents that have occurred on Southwest flights over the past several months.
“I write to you today because we cannot tolerate our beloved cohearts [sic] being abused in such a manner, and because I am asking for your help and leadership in ending these travesties,” her letter stated. “One tool to better utilize would be the Southwest Airlines restricted travelers list,” it added. “The flying public needs to understand that egregious behavior will result in being banned from flying with Southwest Airlines.”
Jack Phillips contributed to this report.