Video captures moment unruly passenger appears to punch United flight attendant

Matej Kastelic/

An angry passenger on a United Airlines flight had to be restrained by fellow passengers after he attempted to punch a flight attendant multiple times. 

The incident occurred on a flight from San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to Houston Airport (IAH) on May 1, 2023. 

Naya Jimenez, a passenger on the flight, was able to capture the distressing scene on video. 

Jimenez told various US media outlets that the incident started when she and her family boarded the flight, and she saw that her booked seat was occupied. 

Jimenez told Fox Business news that she was not a confrontational person so she sat in a nearby free seat while a flight attendant sorted things out with the passenger who sat in her designated seat.

According to Jimenez, the female flight attendant spent 30 minutes trying to explain to get the passenger to calm down and move to her assigned seat. 

At one point, a gate agent had to enter the aircraft to explain to the passenger that she was not in the seat meant for her. It was at that point when the passenger’s husband, 47-year-old Cody Benjamin Lovins of Montgomery, Texas, got upset and asked the gate agent, ”Why are you smiling at me?”

Lovins eventually seemed to reach boiling point, and began allegedly punching the United Airlines staff member. 

After a while, Lovins ran to the emergency exit doors, opened it, and was able to jump down.

“The flight attendants just kicked in and everybody pulled him back to safety,” Jimenez said. 

“This customer’s behavior was unacceptable,” a United representative said in a statement seen by Insider. “He has been banned from future United flights and we are working with local law enforcement in their investigation.” 

Lovins was arrested by the San Francisco Police Department. He was charged and released on battery charges.

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