There were 477 incidents of passenger misconduct on Southwestern flights between April 8 and May 15, including on a Sunday morning on a landing flight at San Diego International Airport, according to the union. flight attendants of the carrier.
“Last weekend one of our flight attendants was severely assaulted resulting in facial injuries and the loss of two teeth,” wrote Lyn Montgomery, president of TWU Local 556, in a letter to Southwest CEO Gary Kelly.
“This unprecedented number of incidents has reached an intolerable level, with passenger non-compliance events also becoming more aggressive in nature,” said Montgomery.
Southwest confirmed the recent incident in an emailed statement.
“Our reports indicate that a passenger physically assaulted a flight attendant while landing on flight # 700 from Sacramento to San Diego on Sunday morning,” the spokesperson said. “The passenger repeatedly ignored standard flight instructions and became verbally and physically abusive on landing. The police were asked to meet the flight on arrival, and the passenger was taken into custody. ”
A woman who shared a video of police officers escorting a woman from the plane said the flight attendant told a passenger to keep their seatbelt fastened while the plane was still in motion, the passenger responding by punching him in the head.
“As the flight attendant staggered backwards with a bloodied face, we were all told to stay in our seats while they called in the police to evacuate the unruly passenger,” she said. in a message on Facebook.
“We do not tolerate or condone verbal or physical abuse by our flight crews, who are responsible for the safety of our passengers,” said the Southwest spokesperson.
The incident occurred a day before the Federal Aviation Administrationfor attempting to open the cockpit door and punching a flight attendant in the face twice on a Delta Air Lines flight in late December.
The FAA also said it was seeking fines from three other passengers for behavior, including refusing to wear a mask and threatening others. They include:
- Woman fined $ 9,000 for continuously refusing to wear a mask properly and insulting flight attendants on an Allegiant Air flight on February 15 from Fort. Lauderdale, Florida to Knoxville, Tennessee.
- A passenger on a Feb. 5 flight faces a fine of $ 18,500 for bringing his own alcohol on a JetBlue flight from Fort Lauderdale to Las Vegas and refusing to stop drinking it at the behest of flight attendants. The FAA said he also continued to remove his face mask and wear it incorrectly despite instructions from flight attendants.
- The agency is also seeking a $ 27,000 fine against a passenger who allegedly threatened to kill someone and claimed to have access to a bomb during a January 1, 2020 flight southwest of Phoenix to Chicago. The flight was diverted to Oklahoma City where police took the man into custody.
The FAA has received approximately 2,500 reports ofbehavior and 1,900 reports of passengers refusing to wear masks in defiance of a federal mandate.
While fewer people have been flying since the coronavirus took hold in the United States in March 2020, data from the Transportation Security Administration shows an increase in recent weeks in passenger screening at airports. More than 1.6 million people were tested on Sunday, the most in a single day since last year. The number of passengers decreased by 61% in 2020.
At the same time, more and more passengers are being banned by airlines for unruly behavior. Lists maintained by airlines – different from the federal no-fly list – had swelled to more than 3,000 by February, according to data compiled by CBS News.
The Montgomery union official fears things will only get worse when the Southwest brings back booze this summer after largely.
She calls on Southwest to take stronger action to curb bad behavior, including adding more to the carrier’s restricted traveler list.
“The flying public must understand that egregious behavior will result in a ban on flying with Southwest,” Montgomery wrote. “No passenger should be removed from a flight just to be allowed to board the very next Southwest Airlines flight after a non-compliance incident. ”
The union also urged the airline to ask the government to add federal air commissioners to aircraft to ensure travel safety.