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Unruly woman on American flight to Charlotte duct-taped to seat, hit with largest FAA fine

Tue, April 12, 2022

A woman who was duct-taped to her seat on an American Airlines flight to Charlotte in July has been fined $81,950 by the Federal Aviation Administration — the administration’s largest fine to date.

The woman was flying from Dallas-Fort Worth to Charlotte on an overnight flight that landed in Charotte on July 7.

According to the FAA, the woman threatened to hurt a flight attendant after falling into the aisle. The passenger then pushed the flight attendant aside and tried to open the cabin door.

More info: CLT flight attendants describe anxiety amid 2021’s unruly passengers

The FAA announced the latest round of fines for unruly passengers Friday.

Two flight attendants tried to restrain the passenger, but the woman repeatedly hit one flight attendant on the head, according to the FAA. She also bit and tried to kick the crew, according to the FAA.

A video posted to TikTok at the time, that has since been removed, showed the woman in visible distress, restrained to her seat as passengers left the plane at the Charlotte airport.

The woman was transported to a hospital for evaluation after the flight landed safely at Charlotte Douglas International Airport, American Airlines said at the time. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police was also present at the landing, according to the airline.

Increase in disruptive passengers

Reports of unruly passengers on planes jumped dramatically in 2021, often centering around alcohol consumption or mask complaints, according to the FAA.

Last year, the FAA initiated a record-high 1,099 investigations into unruly passenger reports, compared to 183 in 2020 and 146 in 2019.

So far this year, the FAA has initiated 309 investigations into unruly passenger reports.

Unruly passengers have always been part of the job for flight attendants. But it’s gotten much worse, CLT-based flight attendants told the Observer last year.

In fact, the Federal Air Marshal Service teaches a self-defense class for airplane crew members once a month at the agency’s Charlotte field office.

“Our entire job is preparing for the worst-case scenario,”American Airlines flight attendant Courtney McDonald told the Observer in August 2021, as McDonald and other flight attendants learned self-defense strategies.