BOSTON (WHDH) - An incident aboard a United Airlines flight bound for Boston where officials said a passenger tried to open a plane door and stab a flight attendant over the weekend was just the latest in an uptick of attacks over the past few years involving passengers and flight attendants.
As the passenger allegedly involved in the incident faces charges, the Association of Flight Attendants, a union, has responded, saying in a statement that “violence has no place anywhere and certainly not in a closed cabin flying several miles in the air.”
“Aviation’s first responders are charged with the safety of everyone onboard,” the union said. “When incidents like this happen, it not only risks the safety of the crew involved, it takes away from flight attendants’ ability to respond to medical, safety or security emergencies”
“Bottom line: it puts everyone at risk and there’s zero tolerance for that,” the union continued.
7NEWS spoke with a member of the Association of Flight Attendants on Tuesday who said the union is proud of the actions taken by fellow flight attendants over the weekend.
Like many, Susannah Carr said she was horrified when she heard what happened.
Carr continued, saying this incident shows the importance of flight attendants and the training they go through for tasks beyond providing customer service.
“We’re aviation’s first responders and they absolutely acted,” Carr said.
Interfering with airline crew members is against federal law.
The FAA began cracking down on such infractions two years ago, announcing a “zero tolerance” policy.
The FAA reports it has received thousands of reports of unruly passengers in recent years. But not many of them have been as serious as the once seen this weekend in the sky approaching Boston.
Penalties for unruly behavior on flights can include heavy fines and jail time.
In 2021, flight attendants on a Frontier Airlines flight from Philadelphia to Miami duct-taped a passenger to his seat because they said he groped two flight attendants and punched another.
Police arrested the man when the plane landed. He was later sentenced for 60 days in jail.
Elsewhere, on a flight from Los Angeles to Washington DC in February of last year, a flight attendant had to repeatedly hit a passenger in the head with a metal coffee pot to stop him from trying to open an exit door.
In a different incident, a woman who investigators said repeatedly hit a flight attendant in the head and bit a crew member ended up facing a fine from the FAA of more than $80,000.
Francisco Severo Torres, 33, of Leominster has been charged with one count of interference and attempted interference with flight crew members and attendants using a dangerous weapon in connection with his alleged actions on Sunday on the plane to Boston.
Torres was arrested Sunday evening at Logan International Airport and detained pending a subsequent hearing following an initial court appearance on Monday. He is due back in court on March 9.
United Airlines said in a statement on Monday that it had banned Torres from flying on its planes pending an investigation.
A day later, Carr said this incident shows the need for a national list of passengers banned by airlines.
Right now, she said, someone can be banned by one airline and potentially fly on a different carrier since she said information on banned passengers isn’t shared between airlines.
Carr said a national list would prevent such a possibility.
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