According to American Airlines, a passenger attacking a flight attendant on a journey from Los Cabos, Mexico, to Los Angeles on Wednesday resulted in an arrest and a lifetime ban from the carrier.
The event took place on American Airlines flight 377, which departed from San José del Cabo International Airport and arrived at Los Angeles International Airport shortly after 3:30 p.m.
A flight attendant can be seen questioning someone on the plane if they were threatening him in video that was apparently recorded by another passenger and shared with a local television station. As witnesses screamed, the passenger ran up behind him as he turned around and walked up the aisle and punched him in the back of the head. The passenger was later identified by authorities as 33-year-old Alexander Tung Cuu Le of Westminster, Calif.
American Airlines issued a statement saying, “We do not accept acts of aggression towards our team members.” “The person responsible for this act will never again be permitted to travel with us, and we will closely cooperate with law enforcement in their investigation.”
Law enforcement officials greeted the jet when it landed, according to American, and took the unidentified passenger away. The statement congratulated the crew and assured them that the airline was providing them with the assistance they require.
Requests for comment from the Federal Bureau of Investigation were not immediately fulfilled. An arrest has been made, and the federal prosecutor’s office is collaborating with the FBI, according to Ciaran McEvoy, a spokesperson for the Central District of California U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office announced on Thursday that Le had been charged with one count of interfering with flight attendants and crew members. Le allegedly grabbed a flight attendant’s shoulder and requested coffee 20 minutes into the journey, according to a news statement. He grabbed the flight attendant’s shoulders and then made his way to the front of the aircraft, where he allegedly sat in an empty seat close to first class.
Le was requested to go back to his designated seat by another flight attendant who was later assaulted. According to the press release, Le retaliated by fist-pushing and swinging at the crew member, but missed. Le allegedly struck the flight attendant from behind as she went away to inform the pilot of the incident.
The attacker was subdued by passengers and crew members, according to the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, which is the union for more than 24,000 American Airlines employees. The national president of the union, Julie Hedrick, described the attack as “dangerous, life-threatening activity.”
The statement said, “This violent behavior must cease. It endangers the safety of all passengers and employees.”
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, “a few passengers” halted. After that, he sprinted to the rear of the aircraft. According to the press release, after repeatedly unbuckling his seatbelt, his hands and legs were bound with flex cuffs provided by a flight attendant, and he was secured to the seat with seatbelt extenders.
Early in the epidemic, there were more reports of rowdy passengers, in part because flight attendants had to enforce the federal mask requirement that has since been lifted.
Violence has already been directed at flight attendants: A flight attendant for Southwest Airlines had severe facial injuries in May 2021, including several chipped teeth. Two felonies were brought against the passenger.
After an alleged assault by a passenger, an American Airlines flight attendant shattered bones in her face and needed to go to the hospital.
The Federal Aviation Administration reported receiving 5,981 reports of instances involving rowdy passengers last year. The government then launched 1,113 investigations and started taking enforcement action in 350 cases.
The agency has received 1,973 allegations of disorderly passengers this year as of early this week, launched 680 investigations, and taken enforcement action in 468 incidents.
A New York woman was sentenced to four months in federal prison earlier this month for disruptive behavior that resulted in the last flight of American Airlines being diverted.