Fort Worth, Texas – A man apparently caught in a video has been caught hitting a flight attendant in the back of the head during an American Airlines flight after the plane landed in Los Angeles.
On Thursday, authorities accused Alexander Tung Ko Lee of interfering with the flight crew. Lee, of Westminster, California, faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
The accident occurred Wednesday on a flight from San Jose del Cabo, Mexico, to Los Angeles International Airport. A video posted by another passenger showed a man running behind a flight attendant and punching him while a crew member walked in the other direction.
According to an affidavit from an FBI agent, shortly after takeoff, Lu grabbed another flight attendant by the shoulders and ordered a coffee. He was told to wait.
When Lee, 33, moved from the back of the plane to an open seat near the first-class cabin, the male flight attendant asked him to return to his assigned seat. Instead, Lu stood in a combative stance with two fists and swung his arm toward a crew member but missed, according to the affidavit.
The flight attendant was on her way to report the accident to the pilot when he was hit in the back of the head.
The FBI agent said that several passengers “arrested” Lee and handcuffed and handcuffed Lee with handcuffs provided by another flight attendant. The injured flight attendant, who spent the rest of the flight with an ice pack on her head, was taken to the hospital.
The president of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, the union that represents American cabin crews, said the passenger exhibited “life-threatening behaviour”.
“Fortunately, the crew and passengers subdued the passenger, and the plane landed safely,” union official Julie Hedrick said. “This violent behavior puts the safety of all passengers and crew at risk and must stop.”
An airline spokesman, Curtis Blessing, said the US had banned the man from ever traveling on the airline. He said America was helping law enforcement authorities investigate the incident.
According to Federal Aviation Administration figures, airlines have reported nearly 2,000 incidents involving riotous passengers this year, down from nearly 6,000 cases last year even with a 38% increase in the number of air travelers in the United States.
Most accidents in 2021 and early 2022 involved passengers who refused to wear face masks, but the federal requirement for masks on planes and public transportation was overturned by a federal judge in April.
Government figures do not indicate how often events turn violent, although they appear to be rare. The most famous case was a young woman who punched a Southwest flight attendant, breaking some of her teeth, on a plane in California. The woman was sentenced to 15 months in prison.
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