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Passenger fined $23,000 after attacking flight attendant because seat didn’t recline

Passenger fined $23,000 after attacking flight attendant because seat didn’t recline
Passenger ‘kept yelling at flight attendants’

A woman in the US was fined $23,000 (£17,097) after she verbally abused and attacked a flight attendant because her seat on the aircraft would not recline.

The unnamed passenger was on an American Airlines flight on 11 March when the incident occurred, but wasn’t fined until last week.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the woman “verbally abused flight attendants after she realised her assigned seat would not recline”.

Cabin crew tried to address the traveller’s concerns, but she refused to move seats and instead “kept yelling at flight attendants”.

The woman also refused to comply with the compulsory mask mandate onboard the plane, the FAA said.

Although she did eventually agree to move seats, she continued to verbally attack cabin crew.

“She then struck a flight attendant on the right forearm, and attempted to do so again,” said the FAA in a statement.

The woman was arrested when the plane touched down.

The FAA revealed the details of the air rage incident along with another nine instances that have taken place on US flights this year.

In another, a woman screamed at and punched her son and husband before stealing a fellow passenger’s cookies on a Horizon Air flight from Austin, Texas to San Francisco, California on 18 May.

Fines of at least $20,000 have been proposed in all cases.

Although occurrences of “air rage” have dropped since the FAA launched a zero tolerance policy for unruly travellers, rates remain high, with 100 instances involving physical assault recorded since January.

“Our work is having an impact and the trend is moving in the right direction,” FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said in a statement.

“But we need the progress to continue. This remains a serious safety threat, and one incident is one too many.”

It follows the news that rules around compulsory mask-wearing have driven a surge in “air rage” incidents involving unruly passengers, according to airline body Iata.

In an article in its Airlines magazine, the International Air Transport Association reported that the rate of unruly passenger incidents had doubled in 2020 compared to previous years, and confirmed that the trend has continued into 2021.