American Airlines has issued an apology for a “blatant and disturbing” assault on an employee by a drunk passenger that landed the flight attendant in hospital and caused it to be diverted.
“We can’t believe that this happened,” the airline’s CEO, Doug Parker, said at a news conference, describing what happened on flight 592, from Amsterdam to Las Vegas, as “one of the worst things that I’ve ever seen in my 26 years at American Airlines”.
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The flight attendant was working alone on the gate at a delayed Amsterdam airport on Monday evening when he approached a passenger sitting across from him, he said.
The passenger appeared to be intoxicated and verbally abusive, Parker said.
The unnamed man was ejected from the plane and arrested by the Dutch police at Schiphol airport on suspicion of assault, airline spokesman Bryan Bedford said. He faces up to two years in prison.
The flight was delayed by about an hour and forced to divert to Burbank, where the passenger was arrested and booked into jail, Bedford said. Flight 592 made a safe safe landing at McCarran International airport in Las Vegas.
Parker said the flight attendant involved was released from hospital, but officials have not disclosed the extent of his injuries.
Parker said the airline will conduct a thorough review into how the staff member was treated while being restrained by other passengers.
“It was one of the most shocking, unpleasant things that anyone who has worked at American Airlines has ever seen,” he said.