On a Frontier Airlines flight in the USA last week, flight attendants were forced to restrain a passenger by duct taping him to his seat after he allegedly punched and groped staff members and cursed at other passengers on board.
1. Incident and reaction
In a Tweet, ABC reporter Sam Sweeney shared a video of the passenger being abusive, and then restrained by staff. Sweeney reported that 22-year-old Ohio resident Maxwell Berry allegedly touched two female flight attendants breasts, before yelling out that his parents were worth $2 million dollars. He also said that Berry then punched a male flight attendant who came to the aid of his female coworkers. The video, which went viral, shows a male flight attendant asking the passenger to calm down before the passenger can be seen punching him in the face, at which point flight attendants tape him to the seat and tie him with a seatbelt extender.
Frontier passenger allegedly touched 2 flight attendants breasts, then screamed his parents are worth $2 million, before punching a flight attendant. Frontier suspended the crew for duct taping the passenger to his seat as they landed in Miami. 22 yr old Max Berry is in custody. pic.twitter.com/4xS9Rwvafx— Sam Sweeney (@SweeneyABC) August 3, 2021
Multiple outlets reported that according to a police report from the incident, Berry allegedly ordered multiple alcoholic drinks from a flight attendant and touched her “backside inappropriately”. He then spilled a drink on his shirt, went to the bathroom and came out without a shirt on. A flight attendant helped him get a new shirt from his luggage, at which point he allegedly groped the breasts of another flight attendant. He later came up behind the women “and put his arms around both of them and groped their breasts again,” said the police report.
Within hours of the largest flight attendant union demanding support for the suspended crew, Frontier is out with a new statement. Frontier says their first statement was rushed, but still will not say if the flight attendants were initially suspended for violating policy. pic.twitter.com/uTyvEWczda— Sam Sweeney (@SweeneyABC) August 3, 2021
2. Frontier Airlines reaction
Following the incident and release of the video, the Frontier Airlines crew was suspended for their actions, a reaction which viewers of Sweeney’s Twitter post immediately called out and which sparked much debate. The airline initially issued the following statement: “During a flight from Philadelphia to Miami on July 31, a passenger made inappropriate physical contact with a flight attendant and subsequently physically assaulted another flight attendant. As a result, the passenger needed to be restrained until the flight landed in Miami and law enforcement arrived. Unfortunately the proper policies for restraining a passenger were not followed. As a result, the flight attendants involved have been suspended pending further investigation.” However, as Sweeney reports on his Twitter, within hours of the largest flight attendant union demanding support for the suspended crew, Frontier released a new statement, saying their first one was rushed. He shows the statement on his Tweet, which states that the inflight crew members have now been placed on paid leave, which is “in line with an event of this nature pending an investigation. However Sweeney highlights that the airline will still not say if the flight attendants were initially suspended for violating policy.
Among those who called out Frontier Airlines for their initial reaction was Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants CWA. In a statement obtained by USA TODAY she strongly criticised the decision, saying “Management suspended the crew as a knee-jerk reaction to a short video clip that did not show the full incident. Management should be supporting the crew at this time not suspending them. We will be fighting this with every contractual and legal tool available, but we would hope there will be no need for that as management comes to their senses and supports the people on the frontline charged with keeping all passengers safe”. Berry has been arrested on three counts of misdemeanor battery and FBI agents are not pursuing federal felony charges, according to multiple reports.