A passenger flying to Los Angeles from Los Cabos in Mexico on an American Airlines was arrested and banned for life after he attacked a flight attendant. The incident took place on American Airlines flight 377 on Wednesday and was captured by another passenger. The cellphone video later appeared on social media and became viral. The plane landed at Los Angeles airport just after 3.30pm (local time) and the passenger was immediately removed by officials of Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), according to The Washington Post.
A man was arrested by Los Angeles Airport police after assaulting a flight attendant on an American Airlines flight from Cabo. pic.twitter.com/2VDXxIqUfn
— 🇺🇸BellaLovesUSA🍊 (@Bellamari8mazz) September 22, 2022
A 33-second clip circulating on Twitter and other platforms shows a male flight attendant asking the passenger, “Are you threatening me?” As he turns around and walks up the aisle, the passenger, dressed in an orange floral shirt, runs up from behind and strikes the flight attendant in the back of the head with his fist.
Other passengers are heard screaming “Oh my god” in the clip. One traveller says, “What are you doing?”
An airhostess is then seen coming to the rescue of the flight attendant who is knocked down. One of the eyewitnesses was quoted as saying by New York Post that the attacker was restrained by other passengers using zip ties until he was removed from the flight.
In a release, the US Justice Department identified the attacker as 33-year-old Alexander Tung Cuu Le, a resident of California. He has been charged with one count of interference with flight crew members, said the New York Times, adding that he could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
The New York Times said that the episode began 20 minutes after Flight 377 left Los Cabos airport. Citing an affidavit filed by the FBI, the outlet said that Mr Le grabbed a flight attendant’s shoulder as he was providing food and beverages and asked for coffee. He then walked to the front of the plant and sat in an unoccupied row near the first-class cabin, according to the affidavit. When another flight attendant asked Mr Le to return to his seat, he closed both of his fists and assumed a “fighting stance”, the FBI said. The flight attendant then decided to report the behaviour to the pilot and turned around after which Mr Le attacked him.
American Airlines later issued a statement in which it said, “Acts of violence against our team members are not tolerated by American Airlines. The individual involved in this incident will never be allowed to travel with us in the future, and we will work closely with law enforcement in their investigation.”
The statement also thanked the crew members and said the airline was giving them the support they need.