FOX31 Denver

Unruly airplane passenger incidents are on the rise

DENVER (KDVR) — Just 24 hours after we learned an American Airlines passenger attacked a flight attendant while on a plane headed to the west coast, many of you are asking what you should do if you witness an attack or something similar on your flight.

That flight got diverted to DIA following that incident Wednesday night.

It’s unclear exactly what happened.

Witnesses on the plane tell FOX31 they thought the incident started over mask-wearing. But the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, which represents thousands of American Airlines crew members, said it can’t confirm that.

Their spokesperson, Paul Hartshorn, Jr., said they’ve been told a flight attendant bumped the passenger on the way to the galley. We’re continuing to press investigators for answers and we’ll learn more if they file any charges.

Unruly airplane passenger incidents on the rise

Meanwhile, you may have seen the video from Wednesday of the aftermath of the incident or videos like it in recent months, mid-air mayhem. This one involved a passenger attacking a woman flight attendant, who we learned has been released from a Denver hospital.

“Honestly, it’s tragic and I don’t think people realize flight attendants have so much to do,” Joseph LoRusso, director of aviation law at Ramos Law said.

He said what happened on the American Airlines flight was tragic, but no longer is it uncommon.

“A lot of these situations, we’re finding that someone is festering or stewing with some sort of dissatisfaction,” LoRusso said.

Frustration while flying has taken off in the last year. Our Data Desk found that in the first quarter of this year, there have been 13 reports per every 10,000 flights. That’s from under three during the last quarter of last year.

And out of the near 5,000 incidents this year, 72% were mask-related. It’s unclear exactly what led up to this incident.

Officials with the flight attendants’ union said they’re on track to see more passenger disruptions and assaults this year than ever in the history of aviation.

“Everybody is an asset to that flight crew,” LoRusso told FOX31’s Joshua Short. “You’re a team up there, so if a crew asks you to evacuate the airplane or brace for impact or to help in a situation that may be out of their control at that time, I think it’s important that passengers are ready for that call.”