American Airlines Diverts Jet After Passenger Assaults Flight Attendant

The flight attendant was punched at least twice and had “multiple broken bones in her face,” according to the Association of Professional Flight Attendants.

An American Airlines flight from New York to California was diverted to Denver after a passenger assaulted a flight attendant, authorities said on Thursday.

The incident happened Wednesday aboard Flight 976, which was heading from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York to John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana, California, according to The Associated Press.

The male passenger reportedly punched a female flight attendant in the face multiple times. A spokesman for the Association of Professional Flight Attendants told The Dallas Morning News that the flight attendant had “multiple broken bones in her face.”

“We are still trying to understand what happened,” APFA spokesman Paul Hartshorn told the paper. “As far as we know, she may have bumped him. She wasn’t even working in this particular cabin class when it happened.”

Although there are reports the man objected to wearing a mask in first class, the Morning News said nothing definitively indicates that the incident had anything to do with a mask policy.

The man was eventually subdued and duct-taped to his seat. Pilots diverted the plane to Denver so that the flight attendant could go to the hospital and the passenger could be removed from the flight.

Law enforcement is investigating the assault and the Federal Aviation Administration said it would investigate as well.

In a statement, American Airlines said that “acts of violence against our team members are not tolerated” and that “the individual involved in this incident will never be allowed to travel with American Airlines in the future.”

The airline also said it will not be satisfied until the perpetrator “has been prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”

It added: ”This behavior must stop, and aggressive enforcement and prosecution of the law is the best deterrent.”

American Airlines CEO Doug Parker discussed the incident in an Instagram post on Thursday, praising the crew and saying that he wants more than just “a travel ban” for the accused.

“The crew’s courage and ability to remain calm in difficult situations is characteristic of our team, but I’m very sorry this was needed for them,” Parker said. “This should not be part of their job.”