An American Airlines flight was diverted Wednesday evening after a passenger reportedly assaulted a flight attendant.
The airline said Flight 976 left New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport and was headed to John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California, but was diverted to Denver due to the accident.
American Airlines said law enforcement apprehended the passenger at the gate.
The airline did not provide additional details or the status of the flight attendant.
In a written statement, she said, “American Airlines will not tolerate acts of violence against members of our team. The individual involved in this incident will never be permitted to travel with American Airlines in the future, but we will not be satisfied until he is prosecuted to the fullest extent permitted by law. This behavior must To be stopped, aggressive application of the law and prosecution of the law is the best deterrent.”
The identity of the passenger was not revealed, and details about the charges were not immediately available.
Denver Airport Police confirmed that the flight was diverted to Denver around 6 p.m. and said the FBI was investigating.
The flight left Denver for Orange County around 9:30 p.m., according to American Airlines.
Reports of unruly behavior on board aircraft, including violence against crew members, have increased since the pandemic began.
Show data provided by the Federal Aviation Administration 923 investigations It was initiated this year in violations of specific regulations or federal laws.
The number is up from 183 last year and 146 in 2019. Prior to 2021, most investigations initiated in the 26-year period dating back to 1995 were 310 in 2004.
In May, a Southwest Airlines flight attendant lost her teeth after a passenger punched her in the face and pulled her hair, according to court documents. The flight attendant asked the passenger to fasten her seat belt, store her staircase table, and wear her mask properly during the final landing.
The passenger told law enforcement authorities that she was acting in self-defence, according to court documents.
She was charged in federal court with assault and interference with cabin crew and flight attendants and has pleaded not guilty, according to court records.
As of Tuesday, the FAA had received 4,941 reports of disorderly behavior by passengers this year, including 3,580 reports of mask-related accidents.
The rate of these accidents has decreased by about 50 percent Since record levels earlier this year, but FAA Administrator Steve Dixon said in September that progress must continue.
“This remains a serious safety threat and there is one incident too many,” Dixon said in a written statement.
The FAA does not have the authority to prosecute criminal cases, but it can impose fines and implement a zero tolerance campaign in January that allowed it to impose fines without warning letters.
This year, the agency brought More than a million dollars in fines imposed on passengers for allegations of unruly behaviour.
Jay Blackman And Juliet Arcudia Contributed.