A Los Angeles bound Delta flight had to be diverted to Oklahoma City on Thursday evening after an unruly passenger attacked a flight attendant and then turned on an Air Marshal mid air. The horrifying mid-air brawl was filmed by another passenger and has been posted online. It is not known what exactly sparked the dispute. However, the passenger was seen handcuffed at the end of the flight and was reportedly taken off the airline.
The incident is just the latest example of unruly passengers in the sky. Airline companies are dealing with a surge in unruly passengers, with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) confirming over 5,500 cases this year. Most of these involved mask-related incidents.
In Combat Mode
Delta Airline flight DL342 took off from Reagan National Airport, Washington D.C. at 5:16 pm on Thursday but the Los Angeles bound flight had to be diverted after a mid-air altercation broke out. The flight landed safely in Oklahoma City but before that a lot had happened mid air.
Video of the incident shot by another passenger shows the mid-air altercation when the "combative passenger" first assaulted a flight attendant. When an air marshal was called in for help the male passenger, in his 30s, also hit him. It's not yet clear what sparked the dispute and if it was mask related. At least, the video shows the passenger was maskless when he was led away by authorities.
Bayne Bunce, 59, who answered a call to assist federal air marshals aboard Delta flight 342 said he saw a man trying to "get at" a flight attendant. Following the fight, the passenger was seen handcuffed. The officer and the flight attendant did not sustain any serious injuries and did not require hospitalization, according to CBS.
The passenger was led out of the flight on landing in Oklahoma City and was arrested. The flight then continued to Los Angeles, where it was scheduled to land at 10:17 pm Pacific Time, about two hours late. Delta apologized for the delay. It is not clear whether the man's rage on Thursday's flight was due to Covid-19 measures.
According to Axios, Oklahoma City Police Capt. Arthur Gregory told the outlet that an air marshal attempted to take the suspect into custody after he "assaulted a flight attendant," but he "proceeded to assault the air marshal."
"Delta applauds the quick action and professionalism of the crew and Federal Air Marshals on Delta flight 324 from Washington, D.C. to Los Angeles, which diverted to Oklahoma City after a customer became unruly and was removed from the flight by local law enforcement. We apologize to our customers for the inconvenience," Delta Airlines said in a statement.
Violent incidents mid-air have surged since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, particularly due to mask mandates. Through November 1, there had been 5,033 reports of unruly passenger incidents this year, including 3,642 related to pandemic face covering regulations.