American and Southwest Airlines have both pledged to extend the suspension of alcohol onboard following a recent surge of violence towards crew members.
The two airlines in 2020 suspended alcohol options to limit the contact between customers and staff, but it was set to reboot in June. However, earlier this week, the San Diego International Airport received a disturbing call about a crew member who was brutally beaten by a customer on a Southwest flight from Sacramento.
Vyvianna Quinonez, age 28, was caught on video injuring the crew member, resulting in damages to her teeth. This instigated a huge uproar on social media, which was then followed by the airlines’ decision to rethink resumption of alcohol onboard.
Brady Byrnes, the managing director of flight services at American, sent a memo to staff about the reoccurring violence airlines are facing.
“Over the past week we’ve seen some of these stressors create deeply disturbing situations on board aircraft,” Byrnes stated in the memo, obtained by CNN.
“Let me be clear: American Airlines will not tolerate assault or mistreatment of our crews.”
In January, the early days of President Joe Biden’s administration, he signed an executive order mandating masks for travellers and encouraged America’s diligence in mask wearing for 100 days to limit the spread.
However, in May, President Biden announced that the mask mandate would be suspended, but following 2,000 rule violation reports, it has now been extended to September.
Brynes stated that flight attendants are simply doing their jobs by enforcing “policies like federally-required face masks”, but this has most likely incited the surge of violence and aggregation towards staff.
Numerically speaking, 194 ‘Unruly Passengers’ were reported to the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in all of 2020. However, numbers have already drastically surpassed last year’s reports, reaching 394 before May.
Quinonez was arrested and charged with battery causing serious bodily injury.
No sources specifically link this case to alcohol consumption, however, to deter this from reoccurring, the suspension will remain until 13 September. This includes both alcohol consumption in flight and the mask mandate.
The FAA can propose up to $35,000 per violation for unruly passengers and the Federal Aviation Regulations 91.11, 121.580 and 135.120 state that “no person may assault, threaten, intimidate, or interfere with a crewmember’s duties aboard an aircraft being operated”.