A Frontier Airlines passenger assaulted three flight attendants on a weekend flight from Philadelphia to Miami, punched one and groped the breasts of two others, causing a crew member to force her into her seat, officials said. prompted to tape, officials said.
Part of the controversy was caught on video by other passengers, who poked fun at the person as the rest was aborted for Flight 2289, which departed Philadelphia at 10:41 p.m. on Saturday and took 2 hours 37 minutes. Got down after
Frontier Airlines said in a preliminary statement Tuesday that flight attendants would be “relieved from the flight” while it was investigated, which sharply criticized the Association of Flight Attendants, the nation’s largest flight attendant union. Later on Tuesday, the airline said the paid leave was in line with an “event of this nature”.
The Association of Flight Attendants said the encounter was a symbol of the hostility faced by the airline’s employees as travel restrictions imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic were eased. This comes amid a surge in reports filed by airlines with the Federal Aviation Administration about unruly passengers who have faced heavy fines for disruptions.
In a video, which was obtained by multiple television stations and attracted widespread attention online, the man, who police said was drinking, repeatedly attacked other passengers and crew. He used to curse He said his parents were worth “two million goddamn dollars”.
The Miami-Dade Police Department identified the man as 22-year-old Maxwell Berry of Norwalk, Ohio, who said in a criminal complaint that he had been charged with three misdemeanors of battery.
It was not immediately clear whether Mr Berry had a lawyer. Messages sent to his family home in Ohio and via email on Tuesday did not go away.
Mr Berry was booked into the Miami-Dade Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation on Sunday and was released later that day. Court date information was not immediately available from the department.
The trouble began when Mr. Berry ordered his third alcoholic drink of the flight and brushed his empty cup against a flight attendant’s back, according to the criminal complaint, which stated that the flight attendant told him “me Don’t touch.”
Mr Berry, who sat in the 28D seat then left the bathroom without a shirt after having his drink, was told by a flight attendant that he needed to be fully dressed, the complaint said. Is. The flight attendant helped him remove a shirt from his carry-on luggage, and Mr. Berry walked around the cabin for about 15 minutes.
That’s when she groped the breasts of another flight attendant, who asked her not to touch her and sit, officials said. In the criminal complaint, officers wrote that Mr Berry later put his arms around the same two flight attendants and groped their breasts.
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When a male flight attendant approached her and asked her to calm down several times, officers said, Mr Berry punched her in the face with a clenched fist.
Sarah Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants, said in a statement Tuesday that the encounter was one of the worst disruptions experienced by airline employees this year.
“A drunken and irritable passenger verbally, physically and sexually assaulted several crew members,” Ms Nelson said. “When they refused to comply after several attempts to de-escalate, the crew was forced to stop the passengers with the equipment available to them. We are supporting the crew.”
In their complaint, officials said several other passengers had helped stop Mr Berry, who was shown in video being secured to a seat by a male crew member, using what appeared to be packing tape. Was. Police said a seatbelt extender was also used as a restraint. Some other passengers laughed and pulled out their cellphone cameras to record the scene.
“Frontier Airlines maintains the utmost value, respect, concern and support for all of our flight attendants, including those who were attacked on this flight,” the Denver-based carrier said. “We are supporting the needs of these team members and working with law enforcement to fully support the prosecution of the passenger involved.”
But the flight attendants union criticized the airline’s response.
“Management suspended the crew as a knee-jerk reaction to a short video clip that did not show the entire incident,” said union president Ms Nelson. “Management should support the crew at this time, not suspend them.”
Frontier did not respond to questions about the airline’s policies and procedures for deterring unruly passengers, including whether the tapes were approved for that purpose.
In the criminal complaint, the arresting officers said they had referred the case to the FBI, but that it refused to pursue federal felony charges against Mr. Berry.
Mr. Berry’s legal problems may be just beginning, though.
The FAA has fined several passengers thousands of dollars this year for conflicts with airline employees over mask requirements and other safety directives. Earlier this year, the agency imposed zero tolerance policy or to interfere with flight attendant attacked which carries a fine of up to $35,000 and possible jail time.
An FAA spokesman said in an email Tuesday that the agency investigates all reports of unruly passengers, but it could not comment on individual cases.
“Cabin crews are responsible for deciding how to respond to uncontrolled-passenger incidents,” the spokesperson said, Ian Gregory.
Mr. Berry graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University in May, where he received a Value in Action Award from the Greek Life Community for being the “perfect role model” and leading the “fight to end fraternal stereotypes”. Posted by University zoom video of presentation.
“Ohio Wesleyan is saddened to learn of this situation with one of our graduates,” Cole Hatcher, a spokesman for the university, said in an email Tuesday. “The case does not involve the university, and the events depicted do not reflect the values of Ohio Wesleyan.”