Romulus, MI (WorkersCompensation.com) – Two people are in jail and a Spirit Airlines employee is in the hospital following an argument outside of Gate 15 for a Spirit Airlines flight recently at Detroit Metropolitan Airport.
Officials with Spirit Airlines said two employees were injured in the attack.
“The agents asked the group to verify that their carry-on bags were sized appropriately for the aircraft prior to boarding, at which time the passengers became combative,” the company said in a statement. “The agents attempted to calmly defuse the situation but were physically assaulted by these passengers as they closed a door to stop them from boarding the aircraft.”
Video from the incident shows a number of passengers confronting employees, with their masks down, as they try to block the passengers from going onto the plane. At one point, an angry passenger knocks an employee to the ground, as three other passengers surround the employee and attack him.
Employees of Spirit Airlines told WXYZ.com that altercations like that are common because of the airline’s pricing policies for carry-on bags.
“It’s not like this is something that’s new,” one employee, who wished to remain anonymous told the station. “We have to come to work with the mindset that we have to be prepared that we might be in an altercation with guests.”
Airport police said that two people were arrested, and another was cited and released.
“All of us at Spirit wish the agents a speedy recovery and thank them for their courage and professionalism,” the airline told Click On Detroit. “We also thank law enforcement for responding quickly and arresting those involved in the attack. This violent behavior is completely unacceptable and has absolutely no place in airports or any other place of business. We will not tolerate abusive behavior of any kind and these passengers will be banned from any future travel with Spirit. Further questions about this incident should be referred to law enforcement.”
It’s not the first time attacks on Spirit employees have made the headlines.
On July 15, 2020, three Spirit employees were attacked by customers upset about flight delays.
Tymaya Wright, 20; Danaysha Dixon, 22; and Keira Ferguson, 21, all of Philadelphia, were charged with battery after attacking the airline’s employees inside the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. Police reports indicate the three women became enraged when their flight was delayed and attacked the employees with “phones, shoes, full water bottles, metal boarding signs and fast food.”
Prior to that, on July 5, a Texas woman Emmari Jackson, 21, attempted to board a plane in Orlando after she was told that her carry-on bag was too big and she would need to pay $65 to store it in the overhead bin.
When she protested the fee, she was told that her poor behavior would prevent her from traveling. Jackson then attacked five Spirit employees, throwing shoes from her carry-on items at one agent, reaching over the counter to hit another and punching a third in the head. When a supervisor attempted to call the police, Jackson allegedly ran over and punched them in the back of the head. Another employee tried to pull Jackson off of the supervisor, reports indicated, but she responded by kicking them in the head, then grabbing a metal dustpan from a nearby janitor’s cart and hitting him with it.
When police did show up, Jackson coughed on the officers and others, telling them she was positive for COVID-19. She was charged with battery and placed in an Orange County jail.
A 2019 report from the Government Accountability Office found that almost half of the agents surveyed reported experiencing verbal threats of harm against them by a passenger. Additionally, about one-third of the agents surveyed said they experienced “other types of harmful actions” including passengers destroying property or having video of them taken, or even stalking the agents after work. And 22 customer service agents in the survey of 104 agents said a passenger had attempted to assault them physically. Only 12 agents said passengers had actually committed an assault.