LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Two passengers were caught on video punching each other on a plane about to take off from Tokyo, Japan for Los Angeles International Airport.
Witnesses said the man in the red shirt seen in the video started the fight. He was ranting about a government conspiracy moments before he began to throw punches at a passenger in the row behind.
A mother with her one-year-old son, seen just feet from Monday night’s brawl had to duck for safety.
She spoke to CBS2’s Randy Paige on the phone from her Orange County home. “It was the most frightening experience I’ve ever encountered,” she said.
Aviation attorney Patrick Bailey said this latest video seemed to have nothing to do with All Nippon Airways but it came at a time of bad public image for the aviation industry
“It just so happens it’s occurring at a time when there’s a lot of angry focus on how airlines treat passengers,” Bailey explained. “I think that really what’s made the biggest difference is the iPhone.”
On April 9, a doctor was dragged off a United Airlines flight kicking and screaming. The viral video sparked public outrage, a lawsuit settlement and an apology from United’s CEO on Capitol Hill Tuesday.
“Unless safety or security is an issue, we will never again ask a customer to give up their seat once they’re on board,” United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz said.
But new plans to shrink leg room may not help to improve things in flight.
CNN Money reports American Airlines plans to decrease the space between seats by one to two inches for economy class on some new planes they’ll use next year. And United may follow suit.
The Association of Flight Attendants worried they were on the frontlines of the backlash.
But the woman we talked to called the flight attendant heroic for trying to break up the fight. “That brave flight attendant you see there. Obviously, she put herself in between the two gentlemen, and that’s not an easy place to be,” the passenger/witness said.
In testimony before a Congressional hearing examining customer service on United States airlines in Washington, DC Tuesday, a representative of the Association of Flight Attendants said with record numbers of passengers on the planes and smaller seats that are closer together, there is a rising tension aboard flights.
So what can be done about it?
“We need the traveling public to help us help you. When there are concerns, we want you to come to the crew. We want you to be able to trust the crew and know that we’re able to de-escalate problems; we’re able to fix problems,” said Dante Harris, president of the Association of Flight Attendants in Los Angeles. “But we also need everyone to follow the rules. And we need to make sure that the flight attendants feel safe as well as the traveling public.”
The man in the red shirt was removed from the flight and arrested. Nippon apologized to its passengers.