Southwest Airlines

Southwest Flight Attendant Attacked by Passenger, Loses 2 Teeth: Union Chief

Union says there were 477 incidents of "misconduct" by passengers on Southwest planes between April 8 and May 15

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Kyle Arnold with The Dallas Morning News joins NBC 5 to discuss what has become a disturbing trend of passenger misbehavior on airplanes.

A Southwest Airlines flight attendant was assaulted by a passenger and lost two teeth in the attack last weekend, according to a union president, who complained to the airline's CEO about unruly passengers.

"Unfortunately, this is just one of many occurrences," said the union president, Lyn Montgomery. She said there were 477 incidents of "misconduct" by passengers on Southwest planes between April 8 and May 15.

A Southwest spokesman said Tuesday that the incident happened Sunday morning after a flight from Sacramento landed in San Diego.

"Our reports indicate that a passenger physically assaulted a Flight Attendant upon landing on Flight #700 from Sacramento to San Diego Sunday morning. The passenger repeatedly ignored standard inflight instructions (tray table in upright position, seat belt, etc.) and became verbally and physically abusive upon landing," said the spokesman, Chris Mainz. "Law Enforcement Officials (LEOs) were requested to meet the flight upon arrival, and the passenger was taken into custody. We do not condone or tolerate verbal or physical abuse of our Flight Crews, who are responsible for the safety of our passengers."

The Federal Aviation Administration said Monday that airlines have reported 2,500 incidents of unruly passengers this year, including 1,900 cases in which passengers refused to wear face masks, which are required by federal rule. The FAA provided those numbers as it announced it was seeking civil penalties totaling $54,500 against five passengers for behavior ranging from refusing to wear a mask to assaulting flight attendants.

Montgomery, the president of Local 556 of the Transport Workers Union, wrote about the weekend attack in a letter to Southwest CEO Gary Kelly.

Montgomery asked Kelly to lobby federal officials for more federal air marshals on flights and to ban passengers who violate rules instead of putting them on another flight. She said flight attendants are concerned about Southwest resuming sale of alcohol on board planes. Many recent cases that have caught FAA's attention involving passengers who were drinking.

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