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Unruly passenger punched flight attendant, American Airlines says

(CNN) — An American Airlines flight attendant was physically assaulted by an unruly passenger on Wednesday, according to airline officials.

The incident happened on American Airlines Flight 377 with service from San José del Cabo, Mexico, to Los Angeles International Airport. Law enforcement met the flight at the gate and removed the unruly individual, according to a statement from American Airlines.

Video posted on social media shows an individual approach a flight attendant toward the front of the plane and proceed to punch the flight attendant with an audible gasp from passengers who witnessed the incident.

“Acts of violence against our team members are not tolerated by American Airlines,” the airline’s statement says. “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.”

A passenger from that flight was arrested, confirmed Ciaran McEvoy, public information officer with the United States Attorney’s Office Central District of California. McEvoy added that their office is consulting with the FBI. No other information was provided.

CNN has reached out to the FBI and Los Angeles World Airports Police for further information.

“We thank our crew for their quick action and professionalism to ensure the safety of their fellow team members and customers on board,” reads the statement from American Airlines. “Our thoughts are with our injured flight attendant, and we are ensuring that they and their fellow crew members have the support they need at this time.”

The Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA), the union representing more than 24,000 American Airlines flight attendants, condemned the passenger’s behavior.

“This violent behavior puts the safety of all passengers and crew in jeopardy and must stop,” said Julie Hedrick, national president of APFA, in a statement.

“APFA fully supports the affected crew members, and will do all possible to ensure that the passenger faces prosecution to the fullest extent of the law.”

Measures in place to address unruly passengers

In January 2021, the Federation Aviation Administration announced a “zero tolerance” policy for unruly passenger behavior that skips warnings or counseling and goes directly to penalties, which can include heavy fines and jail time.

A New York City woman was recently sentenced to four months in prison for interference with flight crew members for an incident that occurred aboard a February 2021 American Airlines flight.

The FAA proposed $5 million in fines against unruly passengers in 2021.

While the number of reported incidents has declined, the number of cases where enforcement action was initiated has gone up. So far in 2022, there have been 468 enforcement cases initiated. In 2021, there were 350.

Top image: American Airlines aircraft at Los Angeles International Airport are seen in this July 2021 file photo. (Patrick T. Fallon/AFP/Getty Images)

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