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Southwest Airlines employee hospitalized after passenger punched her, police say


Southwest Airlines passengers check-in at Orlando International Airport, Orlando, Florida. October 11, 2021.

Joe Skipper | Reuters

Southwest AirlinesA passenger attacked an employee Saturday afternoon after a “verbal altercation,” according to the airline.

This happened as Southwest Flight 4976 flew from Dallas Love Field, Texas to New York’s LaGuardia Airport.

Dallas police say that the woman boarded at 12:40 and went straight to the back. There, she had a heated argument with the attendant, who told her to get off the plane.

Police said that the passenger then ran to the front of Southwest’s plane, where he verbally challenged another Southwest employee. Then, he punched the person in the head.

The police arrested the passenger and charged him with Aggravated Assault.

According to police, the victim was identified by Southwest Airlines as an Operations Agent. He is now in stable condition.

In an email statement, an airline spokesperson stated that “We have a station manager with her at hospital with full support from her Southwest Family sending our thoughts and prayers. “Southwest Airlines has a zero tolerance policy for harassment and assault. We fully support our employee as they cooperate with the local authorities about this unacceptable incident.”

An earlier this year, an unidentified passenger punched Southwest’s flight attendant on board a May 23rd flight from Sacramento to San Diego. According to court records, the flight attendant suffered other injuries and lost two of her teeth.

It was the result of passengers being more unruly and the President of the Flight Attendants’ Union asked for additional federal air marshals.

Lyn Montgomery of Transport Workers Union of America Local 556 stated that the unprecedented level of incidents had reached an unacceptable level. “Passenger non-compliance events have also become more aggressive in nature,” she wrote to Gary Kelly in May.

Federal Aviation Administration says there have been at most 5,114 complaints of passengers being unruly since the beginning, across all airlines. There were also more than 970 investigations initiated by FAA 2021, as opposed to just 183 investigations in 2020.