American Airlines said a flight was diverted after a male passenger 'physically assaulted' a female flight attendant

·2 min read
Masked American Airlines pilot
American Airlines said a passenger on one of its flights assaulted a flight attendant. COOPER NEILL/AFP/Getty
  • American Airlines said a flight was diverted after a passenger assaulted a flight attendant.

  • The passenger won't be allowed to travel with American Airlines again, the carrier said.

  • The FAA says it has received nearly 5,000 reports of unruly passengers this year.

American Airlines says one of its flights was diverted Wednesday after a male passenger "physically assaulted" a female flight attendant.

The flight departed from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York and diverted to Denver while on its way to John Wayne Airport in California's Orange County, the airline said.

The diversion happened "due to a passenger who physically assaulted a flight attendant," American told Insider in a statement.

"The aircraft landed safely and taxied to the gate where law enforcement removed and apprehended the passenger," the airline said.

The Denver airport police confirmed to Insider that the flight was diverted to Denver and said the FBI was investigating the incident. The Federal Aviation Administration told Insider it would also investigate the incident.

Unruly passenger behavior has increased during the coronavirus pandemic. Flight attendants have reported being hit and shouted at, and many say they fear for their safety as more and more passengers act up.

American said it was "outraged" by the incident and had barred the passenger from flying with the airline.

"The individual involved in this incident will never be allowed to travel with American Airlines in the future, but we will not be satisfied until he has been prosecuted to the full extent of the law," the airline said in the statement.

"Acts of violence against our team members will not be tolerated by American Airlines," the carrier said. "This behavior must stop, and aggressive enforcement and prosecution of the law is the best deterrent."

"Our thoughts are with our injured flight attendant and ensuring that she and her fellow crew members have the support they need at this time," the airline added.

The FAA said on its website that, as of Tuesday, it had received nearly 5,000 reports of unruly passengers this year, with 3,580 of those reports being people refusing to wear federally required face masks on planes.

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