Southwest Airlines Employee Punched By Passenger, Hospitalized: Police

By Jason Hall

November 14, 2021

Photo: Getty Images

A Southwest Airlines employee was reportedly hospitalized after being assaulted by a passenger during a "Verbal altercation" on Saturday (November 13) afternoon.

NBC News reports the incident took place during boarding on Southwest Airlines flight 4976 -- which was scheduled to depart from Dallas Love Field to LaGuardia Airport in New York -- at around 12:40 p.m.

A female passenger reportedly headed straight to the back of the plane and argued with a flight attendant, who instructed her to exit the aircraft, according to Dallas police.

The passenger then walked to the front of the plane and began arguing with another Southwest employee before punching the employee in the head.

The passenger was arrested and charged with aggravated assault in relation to the incident.

The victim -- who Southwest Airlines only publicly identified as an operations agent -- was transported to a local hospital and reported to be in stable condition, police confirmed.

"We have a Station Manager with her at the hospital with the full support of her Southwest Family sending our thoughts, prayers, and love," an airline spokesman said in an emailed statement. "Southwest Airlines maintains a zero-tolerance policy regarding any type of harassment or assault and fully support our Employee as we cooperate with local authorities regarding this unacceptable incident."

The incident was the latest among a spike in unruly airline passenger behavior in 2021.

Last month, a female American Airlines flight attendant reportedly suffered a concussion after being assaulted by a male passenger during a cross-country flight that was diverted last week, according to court documents obtained by NBC News on November 2.

Brian Hsu, 20, was charged with assault and interference with a flight crew in relation to the incident, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Colorado -- where the flight was diverted -- confirmed.

The flight attendant was reported to have bled from her nose and experienced dizziness and nausea following the incident and later transported to a local hospital after the plane made an emergency landing in Denver, where doctors diagnosed her with a concussion.

NBC News reports federal investigators have looked into nearly 1,000 cases of "unruly" airline passenger behavior in 2021, after just 146 total were reported by the Federal Aviation Administration in 2019.

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