A flight attendant on leave took control of the public address system, then clashed with passengers and crew aboard a Delta Air Lines flight on Friday in the latest explosion of violent behavior by the share of airline passengers, the airline said.
Delta said Flight 1730, which was en route to Atlanta from Los Angeles, landed in Oklahoma City after the flight attendant on leave grabbed the sound system and made an announcement about the masks at oxygen, sparking a fight with passengers and crew that overwhelmed him.
Video of the flight showed a violent confrontation near the front of the plane involving several people who wrestled with the man on the ground, while someone said, “Take him down. Keep it low.
“The plane landed without incident and the passenger was evacuated by law enforcement,” Delta said in a statement. “We apologize to our customers for the delay and any additional inconvenience this caused.”
Oklahoma City Police said they lifted a man from the plane and took him to hospital, where he was taken back into custody by the FBI.
Megan Lauro, spokeswoman for the FBI field office in Oklahoma City, confirmed on Saturday that the agency was investigating. She said the man was in jail and was being questioned. She declined to comment on the possible charges.
Benjamin Curlee, 29, said he was sitting about four or five rows from the back of the plane, about two hours from Atlanta, when a voice came over the intercom and told everyone to sit down and get ready to put on oxygen masks.
“It made everyone extremely tense, but they started to comply,” Curlee, who described the ordeal on TikTok, said in an interview on Saturday.
It was only later, after the plane landed, that he learned from the other passengers that it was the man who had fought with the passengers and crew members who had made the crash. announcement regarding oxygen masks.
After “very long minutes,” said Mr. Curlee, the captain came over the public address system and asked “all able-bodied men” to report to the front of the plane for an “emergency. “.
About half of the passengers jumped up, according to Mr Curlee, who said he was halfway to the front of the cabin when flight attendants told everyone to return to their seats as the situation was under control.
The episode came amid what the Federal Aviation Administration described as a “significant increase” in disruptive behavior on flights starting in late 2020.
The FAA said that since Jan. 1, it had received around 2,900 reports of unruly behavior from passengers, including around 2,200 reports of passengers refusing to comply with a federal mandate that they wear masks.
Last month, two major airlines, American and Southwest, postponed plans to resume service of alcohol on flights in a bid to end the violence and mayhem.
Both airlines announced the policies after a much watched video showed a woman punching a flight attendant in the face on a Southwest Airlines flight from Sacramento to San Diego on May 23.
The flight attendant lost two teeth in the assault, according to her union, and the passenger was charged with assault and battery causing serious injury. The passenger was also banned for life from flying southwest, the airline said.
Late Thursday night, a Delta flight from Los Angeles to New York City was diverted to Detroit after a passenger became unruly, CBS News reported.
Dana Jacobson, co-host of “CBS This Morning: Saturday,” who was on the flight, said on Twitter that another passenger told him that a “drunk passenger in the back of the plane” had been “out of control while drinking from a bottle”.
Steve Dickson, the FAA administrator, said in a video-recorded statement that the agency has a “zero tolerance policy” for passengers who disrupt flights or do not obey flight crew instructions .
Passengers, regardless of their vaccination status, must wear masks on planes and at airports, he said.
“But it’s not just about face masks,” Dickson said. “We have seen incidents related to alcohol, violence against flight attendants and abusive behavior in general.”