Washington, DC – The head of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has asked airports to help crack down on drunken and unruly passengers just days after video went viral of a duct-taped passenger of Frontier Airlines (video below).
FAA Administrator Steve Dickson extended indefinitely a “zero tolerance policy” for unruly air passengers in March that was first imposed in January, according to Reuters.
On Wednesday, Dickson sent a letter to airport officials asking for their help.
“We are taking the strongest possible action within our legal authority. But we need your help,” the FAA administrator wrote in a letter dated Aug. 3. “Every week, we see situations in which law enforcement was asked to meet an aircraft at the gate following an unruly passenger incident. In some cases, flight attendants have reported being physically assaulted.”
He went on to ask airports to help prosecute people who got out of control, Business Insider reported.
“Nevertheless, many of these passengers were interviewed by local police and released without criminal charges of any kind,” he wrote. “When this occurs, we miss a key opportunity to hold unruly passengers accountable for their unacceptable and dangerous behavior.”
The FAA has received 3,715 reports of unruly passengers this year as of Aug. 1, including 2,729 that involved passengers who refused to wear masks, Reuters reported.
The administration has launched 628 probes into the incidents, more than three times the number of investigations that were conducted involving unruly passengers in 2020.
Dickson said that alcohol frequently contributed to unsafe behavior by passengers and asked airports to crack down on to-go cups and help prevent passengers from taking cocktails onto planes, Reuters reported.
“We have received reports that some airport concessionaires have offered alcohol ‘to go,’ and passengers believe they can carry that alcohol onto their flights or they become inebriated during the boarding process,” the FAA boss explained in the letter.
The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA union reported that 85 percent of its members in a 5,000-person survey said they had dealt with unruly or violent passengers this year, Business Insider reported.
The letter from the FAA took place just days after a video went viral of flight attendants duct-taping a drunken violent passenger into his seat.
Flight attendants said that 22-year-old Maxwell Berry had already been drinking when he boarded a flight from Philadelphia to Miami on July 31, WPVI reported.
The police report said Berry had several more drinks after he boarded the Frontier Airlines flight.
He spilled one down his shirt, then went into the lavatory and returned shirtless, WPVI reported.
A flight attendant helped him get another shirt out of his carry on and then Berry wandered around the plane for 15 minutes, according to the police report.
The report said Berry groped two female flight attendants’ chests before he was wrangled back into his seat, WPVI reported.
Cell phone video filmed by passenger Alfredo Rivera showed that he attacked a male flight attendant who was sent over to watch him after the disruption.
“He was starting to get aggressive and basically attacked the male flight attendant,” Rivera said.
Other flight attendants and passengers had to jump in to help subdue Berry, and the video showed the flight attendants eventually duct-taped the unruly and violent passenger into his seat.
He continued to scream at passengers and crew for the remainder of the flight and repeatedly said his grandfather was an attorney, NPR reported.
Berry was arrested when the plane landed and booked into the Miami-Dade County Jail on three counts of battery, WPVI reported.
Frontier Airlines announced that at least one flight attendant had been suspended while the incident was investigated.
“During a flight from Philadelphia to Miami on July 31, a passenger made inappropriate physical contact with a flight attendant and subsequently physically assaulted another flight attendant,” the airline said in a statement. “As a result, the passenger needed to be restrained until the flight landed in Miami and law enforcement arrived. The flight attendants will be, as required in such circumstances, relieved of flying pending completion of investigation of the events.”
The flight attendants’ union immediately hit back, supporting the crew, NPR reported.
“Flight Attendants have faced an onslaught of disruptions on our flights this year,” the union said in a statement. “The situation on Frontier this weekend is one of the worst examples.”
“A drunk and irate passenger verbally, physically, and sexually assaulted multiple members of the crew,” the statement continued. “When he refused to comply after multiple attempts to de-escalate, the crew was forced to restrain the passenger with the tools available to them onboard.”
Frontier later clarified the crew had been placed on paid leave while the incident was being investigated.
Watch the incident unfold in the videos below. WARNING – Graphic Content and Obscene Language:
Frontier passenger allegedly touched 2 flight attendants breasts, then screamed his parents are worth $2 million, before punching a flight attendant. Frontier suspended the crew for duct taping the passenger to his seat as they landed in Miami. 22 yr old Max Berry is in custody. pic.twitter.com/4xS9Rwvafx
— Sam Sweeney (@SweeneyABC) August 3, 2021
— k9spams (@k9spams) August 3, 2021