A few years back, Sky, a 35-year-old flight attendant, noticed a passenger behaving erratically at boarding. When she took drink orders, she kindly advised he just have a Coke, rather than the whiskey and Coke he asked for.
He didn’t take the suggestion well.
Instead, he followed her to the back of the plane, grabbed her wrist, slammed her against a wall and shouted, “You’re not gonna serve me another drink? You need to serve me another drink! I can’t be on this flight for three more hours without another drink.”
Such incidents used to be extremely rare. But, now, dealing with unruly passengers has become a regular part of the job, Skye said.
Since the end of 2021, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has sent more than 270 cases of unruly plane passengers — including 22 earlier this month — to the FBI, with the aim of potentially pursuing criminal charges. Sky and other flight attendants say it’s high time something be done about how crazy things have gotten in the air.
“I’ve kept a tally, and I could’ve kicked off 70 passengers at this point if I really wanted to,” she said, noting that she now deals with a significant incident at least once a month.
Something needs to be done, but she isn’t optimistic that the feds are the solution.
“I’m not convinced in the heat of the moment, an unruly passenger will reason with the idea of federal charges,” she said. “On airplanes, there’s such limited space … Things can escalate faster than normal. People are on edge.”
COVID and disputes over masks ignited a hostility in passengers that has remained post pandemic, Sky said.
Meanwhile, the general public has been made increasingly aware of these occurrences thanks to viral videos —Tiffany Gomas shouting “that motherf–ker is not real” and a catfight on a plane to Las Vegas that necessitated an emergency landing — captured by bystanders.
RJ, a 32-year-old who has worked as a flight attendant for a decade, recalled his worst incident with a drunk passenger. On a flight from Kansas City to Los Angeles, he served a woman a glass of wine, only to have her later come up to him on the back of the plane and demand another drink.
When he delicately suggested she have some water instead, things quickly took a turn.
“She screamed a slur at me, and I was done with her,” said RJ, who flies for Southwest and declined to give his last name for professional reasons. “I immediately called the pilot. While I was on the phone with my back facing her, she started making weird noises.”
The woman then grabbed another flight attendant’s bag and threw its content around the plane.
Thankfully there was an air marshal on the flight, an increasingly rare occurrence.
(In late November 2022, the executive director of the Air Marshal National Council told Fox News that marshals were on less than 1% of flights as they were being assigned to ground duties on the southern border.)
The woman hit the air marshal repeatedly as he restrained her with zip ties and buckled her back into a seat.
“It was like The Exorcist come to life,” said RJ. “She was going nuts.”
Upon landing, the FBI arrived and only briefly detained the woman, according to RJ.
“That was it,” he said. “There’s no justice for erratic behavior.”
In a statement issued to The Post, Southwest Airlines said it “zero-tolerance stance against unruly behaviors” and “We’ve established reporting procedures and programs to support our valued flight attendants, including potentially restricting an individual’s future travel on Southwest Airlines.”
“This stuff happens all the time, and the airline doesn’t support us,” he said. “We’re underpaid, days are long, passengers are crazy. I’m bewildered. The airline industry is in crisis.”