Travel | May 25, 2021 11:59 am

A Southwest Flight Attendant Lost Two Teeth After Latest Passenger Assault

Disruptive passengers are on the rise, and you'll absolutely guess why

Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-7H4 jet taxis to the gate after landing at Midway International Airport in Chicago, Illinois, on April 6, 2021
Unruly passengers are on the rise, including a recent violent incident on Southwest.
KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI/AFP via Getty Images

Air travel is back in a big way, but the return of passengers also arrives with a huge increase in misconduct.

As reported by USA Today, a Southwest Airlines flight attendant was assaulted by a passenger over the previous weekend and lost two teeth.

“This past weekend, one of our flight attendants was seriously assaulted, resulting in injuries to the face and a loss of two teeth,” wrote Lyn Montgomery, president of TWU Local 556 (the flight attendants union), in a letter to the airline’s CEO. Montgomery also noted that there have been 477 passenger misconduct incidents between early April and mid-May. “This unprecedented number of incidents has reached an intolerable level, with passenger non-compliance events also becoming more aggressive in nature,” she added.

What’s behind the huge increase in unruliness? Besides passenger volume (Southwest confirms leisure fares are already approaching 2019 levels), it’s the return of alcohol sales and people not following masking policies, which are still in effect for air travel. As of now, reports of disorderly airline passengers are at an all-time high.

The union has asked the airline to emphasize that misbehaving passengers might land on a restricted travelers list and be subject to fines, criminal charges and possible imprisonment. As well, the TWU wants consistent policies from the airline and an increase in federal air marshals from the U.S. government.

Whatever your local laws suggest, the mask mandate is still in effect on commercial flights, and the Federal Aviation Administration still has a zero-tolerance policy for unruly passenger behavior on the books. The agency has already recommended fines in the five-figure range.