A Frontier Airlines passenger was taped to his seat after he allegedly groped two flight attendants and punched another in the face on a Miami-bound flight from Philadelphia last week, according to a police report.
The passenger, 22-year-old Maxwell Berry of Norwalk, Ohio, had finished two drinks and was ordering another when he allegedly brushed his empty cup against a flight attendant’s “back side inappropriately,” said the Miami-Dade Police Department report about the July 31 flight. Maxwell later allegedly groped the breasts of two flight attendants, who asked a third cabin crew member for help, the report said. Maxwell then allegedly punched that flight attendant in the face “with a closed fist.”
“A fight ensued,” said the report. The third flight attendant and “nearby passengers” restrained Maxwell “and had to tape him down to the seat and tie him with a seatbelt extender” for the rest of the flight, the police report said. Maxwell was arrested at Miami International Airport.
The incident marks the latest report of unruly and physically violent behavior of passengers on planes in recent months. The Federal Aviation Administration says it has received 3,715 reports of unruly behavior by passengers since the start of the year, close to 75% of them related to passengers who refuse comply with the federal mask mandate.
The FAA is receiving about 100 reports a week, a rate that has been steady over the past several weeks, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Incidents of violence and the uptick in unruly passenger reports has alarmed flight attendant labor unions, who have asked airlines and federal prosecutors to do more to stop the behavior.
A survey by the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, the largest flight attendant union, published last week said that 84% of cabin crew members have dealt with unruly travelers this year and that 17% have experienced a physical incident.
“The situation on Frontier this weekend is one of the worst examples,” said AFA International President Sara Nelson in a written statement. “When he refused to comply after multiple attempts to de-escalate, the crew was forced to restrain the passenger with the tools available to them onboard. We are supporting the crew.”
Frontier said the crew members who worked the Saturday flight are on paid leave pending an investigation
“Frontier Airlines maintains the utmost value, respect, concern and support for all of our flight attendants, including those who were assaulted on this flight,” the carrier said in a statement.