An American Airlines official says there have been ‘deeply disturbing situations on board aircraft’ over the past week, as travel in the US has soared
As travel surges in the United States for Memorial Day weekend, passenger misbehavior on airplanes also appears to be on the rise.
On Saturday, American Airlines became the latest airline to suspend the serving of alcohol on flights after a passenger allegedly brutalized a Southwest Airlines flight attendant, who suffered serious injuries and lost two teeth.
“Let me be clear: American Airlines will not tolerate assault or mistreatment of our crews,” Brady Byrnes, American Airlines’ head of flight service, said in an internal company memo obtained by CNN.
Mr Byrnes said the airline has seen “deeply disturbing situations on board aircraft” over the past week, especially as flight attendants tried to enforce the federal mandate that all passengers wear masks.
The airline says it will stop serving alcohol until at least 13 September – which is also when the mask mandate ends.
Southwest Airlines had already announced a similar ban.
“Given the recent uptick in industry-wide incidents of passenger disruptions in-flight, we have made the decision to pause the previously announced restart of alcohol service onboard,” a spokesperson for the airline told USA TODAY.
The number of people traveling in the US has skyrocketed this week, as Americans enjoy what many consider their first post-pandemic holiday. After over a year of being told to stay home and avoid visiting relatives in person, many Americans – including over half of all US adults – are now fully vaccinated and can safely roam the country.
The resulting numbers are staggering. On Friday alone, the Transportation Security Administration said it screened 1.96 million people. If that figure reaches 2 million at some point this weekend – as it’s expected to – it will be the highest number of travelers per day since early March 2020, before the pandemic began.
The roads are busy as well. The American Automobile Association predicted that more than 37 million Americans will drive at least 50 miles from their homes this weekend, a 60 per cent increase from last year.
Paula Twidale, a spokesperson for AAA, told NBC Connecticut that travel has been increasing since April, when larger numbers of Americans began getting their Covid shots.
“People are just excited to get out,” she told the station.