There has been a troubling increase in the number of disruptions — including violent attacks — aboard commercial jets in recent years as flight attendants take the brunt of the abuse from unruly passengers.
In one recent example, a man on board a United Airlines flight from Los Angeles to Boston is accused of attacking an attendant after attempting to open the jet’s emergency exit shortly before landing.
When the flight crew heard about the disruption, one member attempted to fasten the door’s lock and another approached 33-year-old Francisco Severo Torres, who was reportedly seen near the door a short time earlier.
In a statement on the matter, federal prosecutors wrote: “A flight attendant then confronted Torres about tampering with the door, to which he allegedly responded by asking if there were cameras showing that he had done so.”
At that point, employees began to treat Torres as a potential risk and the plane touched down as soon as possible as flight attendants attempted to escort him off the plane. Prosecutors reported that he “then allegedly thrust towards one of the flight attendants in a stabbing motion with a broken metal spoon, hitting the flight attendant on the neck area three times.”
Fortunately for the allegedly targeted crew member, reports indicate no one was injured in the incident.
Torres is set to appear in federal court later this week and is facing criminal charges including interference and attempted interference with flight crew members using a dangerous weapon.
Even as airline carriers struggle to fill crucial positions, the flight attendant’s job has become increasingly dangerous over the past several years.
Flight attendants are facing increased attacks from unruly passengers. Recently, an attendant was assaulted on a flight from Miami to NYC. This increase in flight attendant assault is unacceptable and there can be no tolerance for such behavior. https://t.co/Y02LDsuFB7
— TTD | America's Transportation Unions (@TTDAFLCIO) May 10, 2021
In 2021, Federal Aviation Administration spokesperson Ian Gregor confirmed that there had been a clear uptick in the number of unruly passenger reports.
“Based on our experience, we can say with confidence that the number of reports we’ve received during the past several months are significantly higher than the numbers we’ve seen in the past,” he said at the time.
The same year, Southwest Airlines temporarily halted alcohol service aboard its flights in the wake of an attack on a flight attendant that resulted in the victim losing two teeth and sustaining other injuries.