A Southwest Airlines employee was hospitalized after being punched in the head by an unruly passenger on a flight taking off from Dallas Love Field.
According to the Dallas Police Department, the passenger boarded the flight at 12:40 p.m. on Saturday and had a verbal altercation with an operations officer after being asked to exit the plane. As the passenger was exiting, she allegedly had another verbal argument with another Southwest Airlines operations officer who Dallas police said then hit the passenger on the head.
The operations officer was taken to hospital and is in stable condition, and the passenger has been taken into custody and charged with aggravated assault, according to the Dallas Police Department.
The operations officer was released from the hospital on Saturday night and is resting at home, Southwest Airlines spokesman Chris Mainz said. Southwest is still clarifying information on the nature of the altercation.
“Our entire family in the South West wishes her a speedy and full recovery as we send her our thoughts, prayers and love,” Mainz said. “Southwest Airlines maintains a zero tolerance policy regarding any type of harassment or assault and fully supports our employee in their cooperation with local authorities regarding this unacceptable incident.”
In May, a Southwest Airlines flight attendant was assaulted by a passenger and lost two teeth, according to a letter the flight attendants union sent to the CEO of the airline in an appeal for more. guarantees as travel rebounds.
In February, a passenger reportedly refused to store her hand luggage in the overhead compartment of a Southwest Airlines flight from Boston to Chicago. She then allegedly “grabbed the armrest, screamed loudly and aggressively” after being told she could not continue the flight and used derogatory language and obscene gestures towards a crew member. When leaving the plane, she allegedly spat on a crew member. The police met her at the door.
These incidents are only a fraction of the harassment and violence that flight attendants have faced over the past year, as mask warrants and flight restrictions have sparked resentment against airlines and their airlines. employees.
So far this year, the Federal Aviation Administration has reported 5,114 unruly passenger incidents, 73% of which were mask-related. More than 100 reports involved physical assaults, according to a press release released last Wednesday.
►Unruly airline passengers: These “unruly” passengers spit, punch and kick airline crew members. They now face heavy fines.
Cases of unruly passengers increased after the United States introduced a mask warrant on planes and at airports on February 1. The mandate is expected to remain in place until at least January 18.
While the FAA cannot prosecute unruly passengers, it can impose fines of up to $ 37,000 per violation for these cases.
Dawn Gilbertson and Bailey Schulz contributed. Michelle Shen is Money & Tech digital reporter for USA TODAY. You can reach her @ michelle_shen10 on Twitter.