Passenger Arrives Taped to His Seat After Assault of 3 Flight Attendants
A Frontier Airlines passenger assaulted three flight attendants, hitting one and groping the breasts of two others, during a weekend flight from Philadelphia to Miami, prompting a crew member to stick him to his seat until the plane lands, authorities said.
Part of the altercation was filmed by other passengers, who mocked the man held up for the remainder of Flight 2289, which left Philadelphia at 10:41 p.m. on Saturday and landed 2 hours and 37 minutes later .
Frontier Airlines said in an opening statement Tuesday that flight attendants would be “relieved to fly” during the investigation, which drew sharp criticism from the Association of Flight Attendants, the world’s largest union of flight attendants. edge of the country. Later Tuesday, the airline said the paid vacation was in line with “an event of this nature.”
The Association of Flight Attendants said the meeting was emblematic of the hostilities that airline crews have faced since the relaxation of travel restrictions that had been put in place due to the coronavirus pandemic. This came amid a wave of reports filed by airlines with the Federal Aviation Administration about unruly passengers, who faced heavy fines for disruption.
In a video, which was obtained by several TV stations and received wide attention online, the man, who police said had been drinking, repeatedly cursed other passengers and crew. He said his parents were worth “two fucking millions of dollars.”
The Miami-Dade Police Department identified the man as Maxwell Berry, 22, of Norwalk, Ohio, who, according to a criminal complaint, had been charged with three counts of assault and battery.
It was not immediately clear whether Mr. Berry had a lawyer. Messages left by phone at his family’s home in Ohio and by email on Tuesday were unanswered.
Mr. Berry was incarcerated in Miami-Dade Corrections and Rehabilitation Services on Sunday and was released later that day. Information on the hearing date was not immediately available from the ministry.
The trouble began when Mr Berry ordered his third alcoholic drink from the flight and rubbed his empty mug against the back of a flight attendant, according to the criminal complaint, which stated that the flight attendant told him “don’t do not touch me”.
Mr Berry, who was seated in seat 28D, then came out of the bathroom shirtless after spilling his drink, prompting a flight attendant to tell him he needed to be fully dressed, according to the complaint . The flight attendant helped him remove a shirt from his carry-on baggage and Mr. Berry walked around the cabin for approximately 15 minutes.
It was then that he fingered the breasts of another flight attendant, who told him not to touch her and to sit down, authorities 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 flight attendant approached and repeatedly asked him to calm down, officers said, Mr. Berry punched him in the face with a closed fist.
Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants, said in a statement Tuesday that the meeting was one of the worst disruptions experienced by airline crews this year.
“A drunk and enraged passenger verbally, physically and sexually assaulted several crew members,” said Nelson. “When he refused to comply after several attempts at de-escalation, the crew was forced to hold back the passenger with the tools at their disposal on board. We support the crew.
In their complaint, officers said several other passengers helped restrain Mr. Berry, who the video showed strapped to a seat by a male crew member with what appeared to be duct tape. A seat belt extender was also used as a restraint, police said. Some of the other passengers laughed and pulled out their cell phone cameras to record the scene.
“Frontier Airlines maintains the utmost value, respect, concern and support for all of our flight attendants, including those who have been assaulted on this flight,” said the Denver-based carrier. “We support the needs of these team members and work with law enforcement to fully support the prosecution of the passenger involved.”
But the flight attendants union criticized the airline’s response.
“Management put the team on hold as a knee-jerk reaction to a short video clip that did not show the entire incident,” said Ms Nelson, union president. “Management should be supporting the crew at this time, not suspending them.”
Frontier did not respond to questions about the airline’s policies and procedures for restraining unruly passengers, including whether the tape had been approved for this purpose.
In the criminal complaint, arresting officers said they referred the case to the FBI, but refused to prosecute federal felony charges against Mr. Berry.
Mr. Berry’s legal problems may be just beginning, however.
The FAA has fined several passengers tens of thousands of dollars this year for clashing with airline crews over mask requirements and other safety guidelines. Earlier this year, the agency imposed a zero tolerance policy for interfering with or assaulting flight attendants, punishable by a fine of up to $ 35,000 and jail time.
An FAA spokesperson said in an email Tuesday that the agency was investigating all reports of unruly passengers, but could not comment on individual cases.
“Cabin crews are responsible for deciding how to respond to unruly passenger incidents,” said spokesperson Ian Gregor.
Mr. Berry graduated in May from Ohio Wesleyan University, where he received a Greek Life Community Values in Action Award for being a “perfect role model” and for leading “the struggle to dismantle stereotypes of brotherhood ”. The university posted a Zoom video of the presentation.
“Ohio Wesleyan is saddened to learn of this situation with one of our graduates,” college spokesperson Cole Hatcher said in an email Tuesday. “The matter does not involve the university and the incidents described do not reflect the values of the Ohio Wesleyan.”
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