A California man caught in a video punching an American flight attendant during a flight from Mexico to Los Angeles was arrested this week, the Justice Department said, in the latest instance of unruly behavior in the skies as coronavirus restrictions ease and travel increases.
The man, Alexander Tong Ko Lee, 33, of Westminster, Calif., was charged Thursday with one count of interfering with flight crew members, a day after he arrived at a flight attendant and punched him in the back of the head, DOJ He said In a press release. Mr Low could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
Jelani Lindsey, an attorney in the federal attorney general’s office who represents Mr. Low, did not immediately respond to a call seeking comment on Thursday.
The Association of Professional Flight Attendants, a union that represents about 24,000 flight attendants on American Airlines, said in a… statement “This violent behavior endangers the safety of all passengers and crew and must stop.”
The charges against Mr Lu came as travelers and crews have been facing an unusually high number of turmoil since the start of the pandemic. In 2019, 146 investigations into the mutiny were launched. So far in 2022, there have been 680 such investigations, according to data From the Federal Aviation Administration.
In the past year, a lot of aggressive passenger behavior has been linked to law enforcement concealment. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reported about 6,000 reports of riotous passengers last year, about 4,300 of whom were mask-related, according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
The pace appears to have slowed this year, although it is still above pre-pandemic levels. As of Tuesday, there were nearly 2,000 reports. The Transportation Security Administration said earlier this year that it would stop requiring visor visors on planes after a federal judge in Florida overturned that requirement.
The Flight 377 episode began about 20 minutes after takeoff on Wednesday when Mr. Lee rose from his seat as the flight attendants served food and drink, according to an FBI affidavit.
Mr. Lu grabbed the left shoulder of a flight attendant from behind and asked for coffee, as stated in the affidavit. Next, he grabbed the stewardess’ shoulders from behind, causing the stewardess, whose name was not mentioned, to back off and “take a defensive stance,” as the affidavit said.
The affidavit stated that Mr. Lu walked to the front of the plane, loitered near the first-class cabin and sat in an unoccupied row.
Another flight attendant, identified in the affidavit as SBG, approached Mr. Lee and asked him to return to his seat. The affidavit stated that Mr. Lu stood and clenched his fists as he took a “combat position”. When SBG went to the front of the aircraft to report the behavior to the pilot, Mr. Lu rushed toward him and punched him in the back of the head, the affidavit said.
video From one passenger, people are shown screaming as they see a man in an orange shirt decorated with flowers hitting a flight attendant.
One of the passengers shouted, “Oh my God.”
After hitting the SBG, Mr. Lu moved toward the rear of the plane, according to the affidavit. The affidavit then stated that “several passengers arrested Lu near the exit row.”
The Justice Department said Mr Lu was later transferred to a different class, with his hands and feet shackled. The flight attendants had to restrain him in his seat with seat belt extenders because he continued to unbuckle his seat belt, the affidavit states.
Curtis Blessing, a spokesman for American Airlines, said in a statement that Lu was greeted by law enforcement officers upon arrival in Los Angeles.
“The person involved in this incident will never be allowed to travel with us in the future,” he added.