A passenger who allegedly assaulted an American Airlines (A1G) (AAL) flight attendant on October 27, 2021 has been charged in the United States. 

American Airlines (A1G) (AAL) flight 976 from New York City to Santa Ana, California was diverted to Denver after the incident, which left a flight attendant bleeding from her nose and requiring medical treatment. The cabin crew member spent the night in hospital in Denver after the incident.

Passenger Brian Hsu has been charged with interference with flight crew and assault within the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States, according to court documents. 

American Airlines (A1G) (AAL) chief executive Doug Parker described the incident as “one of the worst displays of unruly behavior we have ever seen”.

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The court documents contain statements from both the victim and 20-year-old Hsu, as well as witnesses. The incident occured when Hsu was near the bathroom. First, he accidentally struck the flight attendant while stretching, as per various statements. But then, according to the witnesses and the victim, Hsu charged the flight attendant and struck her in the face.

As per the flight attendant’s statement, after being accidentally struck, she told Hsu that he needed to return to his seat because the ‘fasten seatbelt’ sign was on. Hsu then raised his arms as though to stretch but brought his elbow down onto the crew member’s head. She then took a defensive stance with her hands up but Hsu charged her, striking her with his right fist.

Hsu says that after accidentally bumping her, the flight attendant became agitated and began swinging at his head with her hands. He said he was scared of injury because of recent brain surgery. As per Hsu’s statement, he backed away with his hands raised and the flight attendant charged him, hitting her nose against his palm.

Hsu has already been banned from American Airlines (A1G) (AAL) over the incident, Parker said on October 28, 2021. If convicted of the criminal charges, Hsu faces imprisonment and/or fines that could top $250,000. 

The Federal Aviation Administration also has the ability to impose fines for unruly behavior. 

The number of unruly passenger cases has been on the rise this year, causing concerns among airlines and their staff. Parker said in his message that unruly behavior “must stop”.


 

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US president Joe Biden said he had instructed the country’s Justice Department to ‘deal’ with the rise of unruly passengers on planes.