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American Airlines passenger charged for punching flight attendant, diverting plane

In World
January 06, 2024

A man accused of punching a flight attendant later kicked a police officer in the groin and spit on officers who were removing him from the plane in Texas, according to a newly released report by an FBI agent.

Keith Edward Fagiana faces charges of interfering with a flight crew and could face 20 years in prison if convicted. He is scheduled to make his first federal court appearance on Monday in Amarillo, Texas.

Fagiana was a passenger on an American Airlines flight on Wednesday from Fort Worth, Texas, to Bozeman, Montana. Pilots landed the plane in Amarillo instead.

The FBI agent’s account was in unsealed court documents on Friday.

A flight attendant told the FBI that another passenger complained that Fagiana was violently kicking their seat. The flight attendant said when he asked Fagiana to stop, the man swore at him, punched him in the stomach, then stood up and hit him three more times.

The attendant and other passengers subdued the man and put flex cuffs on him until the plane landed in Amarillo.

US charges passenger who ‘punched flight attendant in face’

An FBI agent said in an affidavit that while officers were putting steel cuffs on Fagiana, he spit at officers and kicked one. They put a “spitting mask” on his face.

The agent wrote that Fagiana said he did not remember anything about the flight but “admitted he had drunk some ‘Captain Morgans’” – a brand of rum – at bars before the flight.

It was not clear whether Fagiana has a lawyer; court records on Friday did not list one.

Video taken by another passenger captured the confrontation with the flight attendant.

“Stop, stop, stop. What the (expletive) are you doing?” the flight attendant yelled at a man hitting him.

Airlines reported more than 2,000 incidents of unruly passengers to the Federal Aviation Administration. That is down from a peak of nearly 6,000 in 2021, when far fewer people were travelling because of the pandemic.

In one of the most serious cases, a California woman was sentenced to 15 months in prison and ordered to pay nearly US$26,000 in restitution for punching a Southwest Airlines flight attendant in the mouth and breaking her teeth.

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