Flight to Seattle forced to return to Tokyo after passenger bites crew

Jan 19, 2024, 6:06 AM

flight passenger bites crew...

A member of the ground crew is seen on the tarmac next to a passenger jet from Japanese carrier All Nippon Airways (ANA) at Tokyo International Airport at Haneda on February 2, 2023. (Photo: Richard A. Brooks/Getty Images)

(Photo: Richard A. Brooks/Getty Images)

A flight headed for Seattle from Tokyo had to make an abrupt return after an American airline passenger allegedly bit a female cabin crew member mid-flight Tuesday.

The All Nippon Airways (ANA) flight departed Tokyo’s Haneda Airport just before 10 p.m., but only traveled for just over an hour before the incident occurred, according to CNN.

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The female flight attendant sustained minor injuries, a spokesperson with ANA confirmed. The male passenger, who was not named by Japanese officials, was detained by police after the plane landed.

CNN cited similar incidents in 2022 when two independent instances of passengers hitting and biting crew members and other passengers on flights occurred. The individuals were fined $81,950 and $77,272, the two largest penalties ever levied by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) against individual passengers for acting out on an aircraft at the time.

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Earlier this month, on Jan. 3, an American Airlines flight needed to be diverted to a Texas airport after a passenger allegedly punched a flight attendant and assaulted at least one police officer. Another passenger complained the man, Keith Edward Fagiana, was violently kicking a seat. Once the flight attendant asked Fagiana to stop, the man swore at him, punched him in the stomach and hit him three additional times.

Number of violent incidents on flights rise

When evaluating flights between 2021 and 2022, the International Air Transport Association found there was one unruly incident every 568 flights in 2022, as opposed to only one incident per 835 flights in 2021. Violence on planes increased by 47%. And according to some officials, that number pales in comparison to the amount of “almost” or “would-be” violent instances.

“The public does not hear about the 99% of would-be incidents that are resolved by flight attendants without event,” the Association of Flight Attendants President Sara Nelson told NBC News in an email. “We deescalate conflict as aviation’s first responders on nearly every flight.”

The increase in flight attendants’ responsibilities has led to pickets and threats of strike. Alaska Airlines flight attendants will take a strike authorization vote, the first since 1993, after holding an “informational picket” in late December. The strike vote was motivated by Alaska Air Group’s decision to acquire Hawaiian Airlines in a $1.9 billion deal, despite stating stating the flight attendants’ requests were problematic for “maintaining growth and profitability.”

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