Flight diverted after passenger assaults flight attendant


American Airlines Flight 976 lands at John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana, California late Wednesday night, Oct. 27, 2021, after it had been diverted to Denver due to a passenger attacking a flight attendant, the airline said. (Nexstar Media)

DENVER — An American Airlines flight that left from John F. Kennedy Airport was diverted to Denver on Wednesday evening after a passenger assaulted a flight attendant, the airline said. An attack that may have been over wearing a mask, according to one eyewitness.

An airline official confirmed the flight was diverted as it made its way to John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana, California.

“American Airlines flight 976 with service from New York (JFK) to Santa Ana (SNA) diverted to Denver (DEN) due to a passenger who physically assaulted a flight attendant. The aircraft landed safely and taxied to the gate where law enforcement removed and apprehended the passenger,” the airline said in a statement.

According to a Twitter user who claimed to be a passenger on the flight, the assault possibly stemmed from the man not wearing a mask. The airline has not confirmed this information.

The eyewitness tweeted that the man punched the female flight attendant.

The flight attendant was transported to a local hospital with injuries, American Airlines said.

FlightAware shows the flight No. 976 departed at 4:29 p.m. Eastern time and arrived in Denver at 6:38 p.m. Mountain time.

The passenger responsible will be banned from American Airlines flights, the airline said.

The FBI was investigating the incident.

American Airlines issued this statement in response to the incident:

We are outraged by the reports of what took place on board. Acts of violence against our team members will not be tolerated by American Airlines. We have engaged local law enforcement and the FBI and we are working with them to ensure they have all the information they need. The individual involved in this incident will never be allowed to travel with American Airlines in the future, but we will not be satisfied until he has been prosecuted to the full extent of the law. This behavior must stop, and aggressive enforcement and prosecution of the law is the best deterrent.

We thank our crew for their quick action and professionalism to ensure the safety of their fellow team members and customers on board. Our thoughts are with our injured flight attendant and ensuring that she and her fellow crew members have the support they need at this time.


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