Unruly passenger physically attacked flight attendant, American Airlines says

(CNN) – An American Airlines flight attendant was physically assaulted by an unruly passenger on Wednesday, according to airline officials.

The incident occurred on American Airlines Flight 377 with service from San José del Cabo, Mexico, to Los Angeles International Airport. Law enforcement met the flight at the gate and removed the unruly individual, according to a statement from American Airlines.

Video posted on social media shows an individual approach a flight attendant to the front of the plane and proceed to punch the flight attendant with an audible gasp from passengers who witnessed the incident.

“Acts of violence against our team members will not be tolerated by American Airlines,” the airline’s statement said. “The individual involved in this incident will never be allowed to travel with us in the future, and we will work closely with law enforcement in their investigation.”

A passenger from that flight was arrested, confirmed Ciaran McEvoy, public information officer at the US Attorney’s Office Central District of California. McEvoy added that her office is consulting with the FBI. No other information was provided.

CNN has contacted the FBI and Los Angeles World Airports Police for further information.

“We thank our crew for their quick action and professionalism to ensure the safety of their fellow crew members and customers on board,” the American Airlines statement read. “Our thoughts are with our injured flight attendant, and we are making sure she and her fellow crew members have the support they need at this time.”

The Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA), the union that represents more than 24,000 American Airlines flight attendants, condemned the behavior of the passenger.

“This violent behavior endangers the safety of all passengers and crew and must stop,” APFA national president Julie Hedrick said in a statement.

“APFA fully supports the crew members affected, and will do everything possible to ensure that the passenger faces prosecution to the fullest extent of the law.”

Measures in place to deal with unruly passengers

In January 2021, the Federation Aviation Administration announced a “zero tolerance” policy for unruly passenger behavior that skips warnings or counseling and goes straight to penalties, which can include heavy fines and jail time.

A New York woman was recently sentenced to four months in prison for interfering with flight crew members for an incident that occurred aboard a February 2021 American Airlines flight.

The FAA proposed $5 million in fines against unruly passengers by 2021.

While the number of reported incidents has decreased, the number of cases where enforcement action has been initiated has increased. So far in 2022, there have been 468 enforcement cases initiated. In 2021, there were 350.

Top image: American Airlines planes at Los Angeles International Airport are seen in this July 2021 file photo. (Patrick T. Fallon/AFP/Getty Images)