A Southwest Airlines flight attendant lost two teeth during a plane crash over the weekend, and a union leader wrote a letter to an airline official asking for support from passengers who continued to be out of control.
"From April 8 to May 15, there have been 477 incidents of passenger misconduct in Southwest Airlines Aircraft," Lyn Montgomery, president of Transport Workers Union of America Local 556, said in a letter to Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly.
"Unprecedented incidents have reached an unbearable level, passenger incidents of non-compliance are also increasingly aggressive," Montgomery wrote, adding that a flight attendant at the weekend was "severely attacked, resulting in facial injuries and two tooth loss."
A statement from Southwest Airlines said a passenger traveling on Sunday morning from Sacramento to San Diego "ignored normal light collision instructions and was verbally abusive when he arrived." The passenger was met by police and arrested when the plane arrived.
"We do not condone or condone the verbal or physical abuse of Flight Crews, who are responsible for the safety of our passengers," the statement said.
This month, the FAA warned airline passengers that there should be a rise in uncontrolled or dangerous behavior on passenger flights.
In a typical year, the agency sees 100 to 150 legal cases of passenger misconduct. Since the beginning of this year, that number has risen to 2,500, including about 1,900 passengers who have refused to comply with federal mask authorities, according to the FAA.
Southwest Airlines "has a responsibility to be first and foremost in this regard," Montgomery wrote in his letter.
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"Airlines do everything they can to ensure compliance while creating a safe environment for all passengers and staff, but they also need the support and tools needed to prevent injuries to us and others," he added.
Montgomery has called on staff to provide "skeptical assistance" to management following a plane crash.
He also called on the South West to use its travel list when passengers were misbehaving.
"No passenger should be removed from a single aircraft to be allowed to board the next Southwest Airlines flight after an incident of non-compliance.
He also asked the company to request more air marshals from the provincial government, and to provide timely notice of flights added to the system to reduce pressure on airline personnel.
"Airline crews need to feel safe and supported when reporting to work," he wrote.