An American Airlines flight from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., had to land in Kansas City, Missouri, because of “an unruly passenger displaying erratic behavior,” according to the company.
The passenger had to be subdued by the crew with the help of other passengers, American Airlines told USA TODAY. The flight landed safely at the Kansas City International Airport, where the FBI was waiting.
“We’re grateful to our crew members, who are consistently dedicated to the safety and care of our customers and who handled the circumstances with the utmost skill and professionalism. We also appreciate the customers who stepped in to assist our crew,” American Airlines said in a statement.
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The Association of Professional Flight Attendants said in a tweet that the suspect had tried to open a passenger door.
“This violent behavior must stop. APFA will continue to collaborate with other Flight Attendant and Customer Service Agent Unions, the Department of Transportation, the Federal Aviation Administration, and Congress to ensure these offenders are prosecuted to the full extent of the law with appropriate fines, criminal penalties, and applicable flying bans,” the association tweeted.
Unruly passengers face fines: These passengers spit, punched and kicked at airline crew members. Now, they face hefty fines.
Airline staff members have been struggling amid the coronavirus pandemic, facing increased threats amid masking policies and taking on more responsibilities among staffing shortages because of a tight labor market and COVID-19 outbreaks.
By the end of 2021,5,981 cases of unruly passengers were reported, 4,290 of which were mask-related, according to data from the Federal Aviation Administration.
The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA called on the government, airlines and airports to do more to reduce the number of such incidents, begging before Congress in September for more support for a ban on to-go alcohol at the airport, shared no-fly lists between airlines and federal criminal prosecution of the most egregious cases of violence.
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As part of the Federal Aviation Administration’s Reauthorization Bill, the FAA can propose up to $37,000 per violation in cases of unruly passengers. Previously, the maximum civil penalty per violation was $25,000.
Michelle Shen is a Money & Tech digital reporter for USA TODAY. You can reach her @michelle_shen10 on Twitter.