April 29, 2017 at 5:11 PM
A Delta Air Lines pilot hit a passenger as she and two other women fought on the floor of a boarding ramp in Atlanta last week, according to a video released by TMZ.
Although the incident happened April 21, the video rocketed around the Internet on Saturday — another heated altercation as airlines are under scrutiny for mistreating people following a United Airlines passenger's bloody, forced removal from a flight this month.
The Delta video, apparently taken using a cellphone, shows three people cursing at each other, then fighting on the Jetway as shocked passengers watch or scramble to get out of the way.
At one point, one of the fighters takes the other woman to the ground, then wraps her legs around her neck and head in an apparently choke hold. That is when the pilot, clad in his white shirt and pilot's cap, walks over and tries to intervene. He grabs the woman's wrist and strikes her, although it's unclear whether he does it with an open or closed fist.
According to TMZ, the women "had gotten into a skirmish earlier, on the airplane, and they knew each other."
No one was charged in the incident, including the pilot.
In a statement emailed to The Washington Post, Delta spokesman Brian Kruse said the pilot was trying to de-escalate an ongoing fight.
"We became aware of this incident and a video last week and immediately removed the pilot from duty while we completed a thorough investigation," Kruse said. "Local law enforcement was called to respond at the time of the incident. The pilot has since been returned to work as our investigation found that his actions de-escalated an altercation between passengers on the Jetway floor during deplaning."
But Kruse said he wasn't authorized to give other details, including what airline personnel are instructed to do in those types of situations.
The Delta incident happened less than two weeks after the United passengers' removal made international headlines and sparked a public-relations nightmare for United Airlines.
In that incident, a United official told passengers that they needed four passengers to give up their seats to accommodate off-duty crew members. When no one volunteered, the airline randomly selected four people. Three left without incident, but David Dao wouldn't budge.
He later told one of the officers, "I'm not leaving this flight that I paid money for. I don't care if I get arrested," according to a police report.
In the ensuing struggle with officers, Dao fell and hit his mouth on a seat's armrest. His lawyer said he broke his nose and lost two teeth. He went limp and the video captured him bleeding from the mouth as officers dragged him off the plane.
According to The Washington Post's Lori Aratani and Kristine Phillips:
United chief executive Oscar Munoz, who in March received the 2017 Communicator of the Year award from PRWeek magazine, was blasted for his subsequent tone-deaf statement, in which he apologized "for having to reaccommodate these customers." Though Munoz would eventually issue a deeper apology two days later, by then the damage to the airline's brand was palpable. United stock prices had fallen and the incident had made the airline the butt of numerous memes online.
The incident prompted United to change its policies regarding bumped passengers, requiring airline crews to check in at least an hour before a flight's departure. Two other major national airlines also announced changes: Delta Air Lines said it would offer passengers up to $9,950 to give up their seats on overbooked flights.
In another incident April 21, an American Airlines employee was accused of upsetting a woman carrying a baby to the point of tears, then getting involved in a heated exchange with a man who came to her defense, according to The Post's Amy B Wang.
"You can't use violence with baby," the female passenger says, through tears, toward the plane door where some passengers were still boarding. "Just give me back my stroller, please."
A male passenger gets up and demands to know the name of the flight attendant who reduced the woman to tears. And the two men yell at each other when the flight attendant gets back on the plane.
"You do that to me, and I'll knock you flat," the man tells the flight attendant.
"Hit me," the flight attendant replies, motioning with his hands. "Come on, hit me!"