Credit: Unsplash

The passenger assaulted a flight attendant and had to be detained.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, reports of unruly and/or violent passengers on commercial air travel have increased exponentially. In the past year, the Federal Aviation Administration has received over 5,000 reports of unruly behavior on planes, with at least 215 of the passengers in question being subject to penalties. The assumption is that this worsening behavior is a result of greater restrictions imposed in the interest of COVID safety.

Yesterday, an American Airlines flight bound for California was diverted to Denver, Colorado due to an incident aboard. A passenger became unruly, physically assaulting one of the flight attendants before being detained to his seat. The plane managed to land safely in Denver, at which point local authorities took custody of the passenger. According to eyewitnesses, the passenger, who was seated in either first or business class, assaulted the attendant over a dispute related to face masks, though AA has stated that this was not the case. Witnesses noted blood on the attendant’s face mask after the altercation. The exact cause of the passenger’s behavior, as well as their identity, has been withheld.

In an official statement, AA expressed their outrage with the passenger’s behavior. “Acts of violence against our team members are not tolerated by American Airlines. We have engaged local law enforcement and the FBI and we are working with them to ensure they have all the information they need. The individual involved in this incident will never be allowed to travel with American Airlines in the future, but we will not be satisfied until he has been prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”

After leaving Denver, the plane made its landing in California, where the attendant was taken to the hospital for treatment. No further details have been released in the interest of the attendant’s privacy.