Passengers behaving badly: the worst flight incidents of 2021


(NEXSTAR) – It probably goes without saying, but 2021 has not been an exemplary year for air passengers.

Since the start of 2021, the Federal Aviation Administration has received over 5,700 reports of in-flight disruptions caused by unruly passengers, more than 4,100 of which involved (at least in part) travelers violating mask requirements imposed by COVID.

A group of these rowdy passengers also came out swaying in the first weeks of 2021. In early January, FAA Administrator Steve Dickson noted a “worrying” increase in reports of bad behavior, noting in particular a slight increase in cases. following the uprising at the United States Capitol on January 6. The FAA then issued a “zero tolerance” policy for bad behavior, warning against law enforcement action against any passenger who assaults, threatens or interferes in any way with the duties of the flight crew.

The rate of disruption began to decline over the next few months, but the frequency of such incidents always remains “too high”, according to the FAA – and much higher than in 2020.

Police and FAA officials released details of the most egregious or violent suspects, some of whom were referred to the FAA for criminal proceedings. Other times, other passengers have filmed these rowdy incidents, showing how unstable they can be.

Here’s a look at some, but by no means all of the worst offenders of 2021.

Bathroom break in the seat

An Alaska Airlines passenger in March struck an air hostess and urinated on his seat after refusing between “eight to ten” requests to put on his mask. The passenger, who also urinated on a travel companion’s bag, was charged with interfere with a flight crew.

Assault on a flight attendant

In May, a Southwest Airlines passenger struck a flight attendant and chipped three of her teeth. (The flight attendant also suffered bruises near his eye and a cut that required stitches.) The incident prompted the president of Local 556 of TWU, a union representing more than 15,000 flight attendants from the southwest, to urge Gary Kelly, Southwest CEO to help end the “intolerable level” of disruptive incidents they were seeing.

The passenger pleaded guilty in December to interfere with a flight crew, a charge punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $ 250,000 fine.

May I have your attention?

A Delta Air Lines flight was hijacked in June after an unruly passenger began trying to make announcements over the plane’s loudspeaker. Several passengers and crew attempted to push him away and eventually managed to hold him back in the aisle, video shows. At the time, witnesses were unsure whether he was trying to open the cabin door or hijack the plane, although Delta later claimed he had not attempted either. other.

Duct tape to his seat

A passenger on an American Airlines flight in July was forced secured to its seat with sturdy tape after allegedly assaulting and biting a flight attendant while trying to open the boarding gate. Images of the woman strapped to her seat were later shared on – and removed from – TikTok, but not before racking up more than 4 million views.

The woman was greeted by law enforcement on landing, American Airlines confirmed. It was also placed on the carrier’s no-fly list.

Belligerent and gropey

In late July, a 22-year-old passenger flying with Frontier Airlines had to be restrained in his seat after consuming alcohol and became belligerent, police said. Before being glued to his seat, the young man took off his shirt and fingered the breasts of several flight attendants. Other passengers also filmed him bragging about his parents’ wealth before he ended up punched another crew member in the face.

The unruly passenger was arrested on landing and charged with three battery counts.

Suffocate a flight attendant

A passenger on a JetBlue flight in September attempted to storm the cockpit, apparently after being unable to make a call on his cell phone. An air hostess was able to intervene before the man reached the cockpit door, in which case the passenger managed to grab the stewardess tie and strangle the crew member with that. The man was eventually tied up with seat belt extenders and the aforementioned tie, according to an FBI affidavit. The passenger then faced charges of interference with a flight crew.

‘I’m going to break your neck’

A combative United Airlines passenger was thrown from a flight to California in October after appearing to threaten a flight attendant and some of the other passengers. Witnesses say the man became restless after being asked to wear his mask, and video of the incident shows him threatening both a flight attendant and another man who appeared to be wearing a badge.

“Mind your own business. Mind your own business. Because I’ll break your neck. said the unruly passenger to the man with the badge.

The passenger who filmed the incident claims the unruly man was eventually escorted off the plane by police after making further threats to the passengers and crew.

Impromptu announcement

Also in October, a passenger flying with Delta Air Lines was escorted to the back of the plane after pulling out its own microphone and amplification device in an attempt to teach his flight companions a lesson on “why the pandemic started”. In viral footage of the incident, the woman is also heard claiming that other travelers “enjoyed” her antics because she was “not that great to watch.”

The woman was allowed to retrieve her dog – which had “better sense” than other passengers, she said – before being moved away from her row.

Cookie thief

In November, the FAA collected a fine of $ 32,000 against a single Horizon Air passenger who “punched and yelled at her husband and son, repeatedly” before throwing trash at a crew member. The kicker? The FAA also noted that it “snatched cookies from a nearby passenger” during the incident.


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