American Airlines said a flight was diverted after a male passenger ‘physically assaulted’ a female flight attendant

Masked American Airlines pilot
A passenger on an American Airlines flight assaulted a flight attendant, the carrier said. COOPER NEILL/AFP/Getty
  • American Airlines said a flight was diverted after a passenger “assaulted” a flight attendant, per CBS.
  • The male passenger won’t be allowed to travel with American Airlines again, the carrier said.
  • The FAA says it has received nearly 5,000 reports of unruly passengers this year.

An American Airlines flight was diverted on Wednesday after a male passenger “physically assaulted” a female flight attendant, the carrier said in a statement, per CBS News.

The flight departed from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York and diverted to Denver while on its way to John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California, the airline said, per CBS.

The diversion happened “due to a passenger who physically assaulted a flight attendant,” American said, per CBS.

“The aircraft landed safely and taxied to the gate, where law enforcement removed and apprehended the passenger,” the airline said, CBS reported.

Denver Airport Police confirmed to Insider that the flight was diverted to Denver and said the FBI was investigating the incident. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) told Insider that it would also investigate the incident.

Unruly passenger behavior has increased in recent months. Flight attendants have reported being hit and shouted at, and many say they fear for their safety as more and more passengers act up.

American said it was “outraged” by the incident, per CBS, and had banned the passenger.

“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,” the airline said in the statement, per CBS.

“Acts of violence against our team members will not be tolerated by American Airlines,” the carrier said, per CBS. “This behavior must stop, and aggressive enforcement and prosecution of the law is the best deterrent,” it said.

“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,” the airline added, per CBS LA.

Insider contacted American for comment, but did not immediately receive a response.

The FAA said on its website that, as of Tuesday, it had received nearly 5,000 reports of unruly passengers this year, with 3,580 of those reports being people refusing to wear federally-required face masks on planes.

American did not say whether the incident was related to a face mask in its statement, per the reports.