A Southwest Airlines’ flight attendant lost two teeth following an altercation with a passenger on-board.
On Sunday, a Southwest passenger was arrested on suspicion of felony battery causing serious injury after she allegedly struck a flight attendant during a flight from Sacramento to San Diego, according to a statement from the Port of San Diego Harbor Police Department.
“The passenger repeatedly ignored standard inflight instructions (tray table in upright position, seat belt, etc.) and became verbally and physically abusive upon landing,” Southwest Airlines spokesman Chris Mainz said.
Paramedics took the flight attendant to a San Diego hospital for treatment, police said.
TWU Local 556 union President Lyn Montgomery cited Sunday’s altercation in her letter and said the flight attendant had injuries to her face and lost two teeth.
Montgomery called on Southwest Airlines to make sure the flying public is aware that disruptive or violent behaviour is punishable through local and federal laws and could result in a ban on flying with the airline.
“Passengers who do not comply with regulations and federal mask mandates cause disruptions to our operations and to our customers’ travel plans, resulting in gate returns, flight diversions and delays,” Montgomery said.
“Consistency is key to this, as well: No passenger should be removed from one flight only to be permitted to board the very next Southwest Airlines flight after a non-compliance incident.”
The letter also calls on Southwest Airlines leadership to call on the US government to increase the number of federal air marshals aboard aircraft.
The Federal Aviation Administration says it has a zero-tolerance policy for unruly passenger behavior and has proposed civil fines ranging from $9,000 to $52,500 against at least 15 passengers in May.
The FAA said in a news release issued on Monday that it had received approximately 2,500 reports of unruly behavior by passengers since the beginning of the year, including about 1,900 reports of passengers refusing to comply with the federal face mask mandate.
This comes as more people are flying, as the summer holidays approach and much of the United States is easing restrictions imposed during the Covid-19 pandemic.