A Southwest Airlines employee was rushed to the hospital after being assaulted by a passenger during boarding on Saturday, November 13. Airline officials told WFAA a passenger was "verbally and physically assaulting" an employee before a flight to La Guardia airport. The incident took place at Dallas Love Field airport.
"We have a Station Manager with her at the hospital with the full support of her Southwest Family sending our thoughts, prayers, and love," officials further said. Dallas police noted that the passenger was taken into custody. The identity of the passenger was not immediately available.
Southwest Airlines released a statement on the incident and stated that they "maintain a zero-tolerance policy regarding any type of harassment or assault and fully support our Employee as we cooperate with local authorities regarding this unacceptable incident." The identity of the flight attendant was not known at the moment.
The passenger had 'verbal altercations' with two flight attendants
According to Dallas police, the passenger had strolled to the back of the airplane while boarding and got into a "verbal altercation" with a flight attendant. The flight attendant then asked the passenger to leave the plane. The passenger then walked to the front of the plane and got into another "verbal altercation" with yet another flight attendant and punched that attendant in the head during the same.
Global pandemic has seen a surge in rowdy passengers
According to experts, the global pandemic has seen a surge in rowdy passengers. "Since the pandemic began, we've been seeing an increase in flight attendant assaults," Paul Hartshorn Jr, national communications chair for the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, said during a conversation with WFAA in October. Hartshorn further noted that "verbal assaults" and "physical attacks" on flight attendants are "increasing every day." According to data by the Federal Aviation Administration, 5,114 reports of unruly passengers were reported between January 1 and November 9 across all airlines in 2021.