An unruly passenger faces jail time and has been banned for life from travelling on American Airlines after punching a flight attendant in the back of the head.
The incident on Wednesday was caught on video by a passenger on a flight from San José del Cabo, Mexico to Los Angeles, and shared to social media.
Alexander Tung Cuu Le, 33, was shown hitting the flight attendant after it was claimed he was told he could not use the first-class bathroom.
In the footage, he is talking to a male flight attendant when he seemingly tries to get physical, resulting in the flight attendant flinching and stepping back.
The employee then says "that's enough" and walks away to report the behaviour to the pilot.
As he is walking back, Mr Le runs up behind the flight attendant and sucker punches him in the back of the head, drawing screams from stunned onlookers.
Following this, a female flight attendant is seen getting out yellow tape to most likely restrain the man with the help of two passengers who looked like they were coming to her aid.
A video from another passenger confirmed that his wrists were later zip-tied together on the flight.
American Airlines provided a statement to Yahoo News Australia about the "unruly passenger who physically assaulted a flight attendant".
“Acts of violence against our team members are not tolerated by American Airlines. The individual involved in this incident will never be allowed to travel with us in the future, and we will work closely with law enforcement in their investigation.
“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 we are ensuring that they and their fellow crew members have the support they need at this time.”
According to CBS News, Mr Tung Cuu Le was detained after the flight landed on suspicion of interfering with a flight crew, which is a federal offence.
33-year-old Alexander Tung Cuu Le from Orange County, California could face a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison after assaulting an @AmericanAir flight attendant, according to @TheJusticeDept. Le was banned from traveling American Air indefinitely. 📹: Donald Hoover pic.twitter.com/7Q6oLknaX9
— Malik Earnest (@MalikEarnest) September 22, 2022
The investigation is now with the FBI since the assault happened in the air and he was due to appear at court on Thursday.
Passenger refuses to leave first-class cabin
CBS News reported that according to the court documents filed, Mr Le expressed worrying behaviour several times before the assault.
About 20 minutes after takeoff, he allegedly got up and grabbed a flight attendant's shoulder to ask for coffee.
Then not long after, Mr Le grabbed both of the flight attendant's shoulders from behind and allegedly started hanging around near the first-class cabin to then sit in an unoccupied seat.
When another flight attendant approached him to ask that he return to the seat, he refused to do so and instead stood up and threatened the flight attendant with his fists.
What follows is seen on the video.
The Association of Professional Flight attendants, a union that represents more than 24,000 flight attendants at American Airlines, responded publicly to the incident in a statement.
"Yesterday, we witnessed more dangerous, life-threatening behaviour towards a Flight Attendant in the not-so-friendly skies," said Julie Hedrick, the national president of AFPA.
"This violent behaviour puts the safety of all passengers and crew in jeopardy and must stop.
"APFA fully supports the affected crew members, and will do all possible to ensure that the passenger faces prosecution to the fullest extent of the law."
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