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A female American Airlines attendant was left with broken bones in her face and was admitted to hospital after becoming the victim of an attack by a passenger because she bumped into him by accident.
The plane was diverted to Denver, Colorado, after the incident occurred and the passenger was detained, the airline confirmed.
It all kicked off when the flight attendant bumped into the passenger whilst walking the aisle, and he then got up and punched her twice in the face in the galley, according to officials from the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA), citing reports from witnesses on the plane.
One of those witnesses said that the woman walked back down the aisle with 'blood splattered on the outside of her mask'.
Another person who saw the attack said that there was a doctor on board who assessed the employee's injuries and said that whilst her nose wasn't broken, it was bleeding, ABC News reported.
The president of APFA, Julie Hendrick, said that the attendant had apologised to the passenger after accidentally knocking into him, but that didn't stop him from getting up and assaulting her.
The CEO of American Airlines, Doug Parker, said that this incident was 'one of the worst displays of unruly behaviour we've ever witnessed'.
The passenger has already been banned from ever flying again with the airline, but in his video statement Parker went on to say that the travel ban 'is not enough' punishment for him.
Referring to the Federal Aviation Authority, he said: "We are doing everything we can to ensure he is prosecuted to the fullest extent possible.
"We're also working with the FAA, who has the authority to levy fines of over $50,000 to disruptive passengers."
Addressing the growing amount of abuse that flight crews have experienced, which has risen even above pre-pandemic levels, Hendrick added: "We've never had passengers assault us like this.
"I think for flight attendants going to work today, the mental exhaustion of 'what am I going to be dealing with?' - you just don't know what's going to happen on your flight today,"
Many flight attendants have spoken about the increase in anti-social behaviour and assaults amongst passengers, and described how it has affected their mental health and created an 'emotionally abusive' working environment.
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