American Airlines "duct tape woman" faces record fines

American Airlines "duct tape woman" faces record fines
(AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)

Last July, you may have seen the viral video that was making the rounds of a woman on an American Airlines flight who was duct-taped to her seat and had her mouth taped shut by the crew after she went ballistic on the plane while it was still in the air. That was only one of many crazy stories about mayhem breaking out on flights around the country, but the way the woman was bound and gagged in response seemed to set this one apart. Now, more than nine months later, the FAA has completed its investigation of the incident. Rather than issuing any sort of apology to the woman over the method used to secure her in her seat, she’s being hit with the largest fine ever imposed on an airline passenger, to the tune of more than $80,000. And she’s not the only one receiving a massive fine this month.

A woman who was duct-taped to her seat aboard an American Airlines plane after she allegedly attacked the crew and tried to open the door midflight faces a whopping $81,950 fine — the largest handed out by the Federal Aviation Administration to date.

The passenger took off to viral video infamy when she was captured bound to her seat on Flight 1774 from Dallas to Charlotte, North Carolina, on July 6, 2021.

She could be heard screaming, “You! You! You!” at passengers filing past her as flight attendants calmly nodded their goodbyes, according to the footage posted by TikTok user @lol.ariee.

If you follow the link in the article you’ll see that the TikTok user has since deleted the video, but there’s no question that the incident actually took place. American Airlines is claiming that these fees are working as intended and incidents of violent behavior by passengers are down more than 60% from the same time last year.

You might be tempted to think that this was yet another dispute over face mask rules on airline flights, but it wasn’t. The flight in question had been delayed on the runway for more than three hours, so a lot of the passengers were already on edge by the time they took off. The flight was mostly uneventful until it began its approach to Charlotte, when the woman suddenly began yelling, saying that they had to let her off the plane. She then attempted to open the front passenger door while the plane was still in the air. When a flight attendant attempted to restrain her, the woman bit them. That’s when they decided to duct-tape her to her seat.

Just as a side note, isn’t there some sort of safety feature on planes that prevents the doors from being opened mid-flight? And if not, why not? Under what possible circumstances would you need to open that door while you’re still in the air unless you’re carrying skydivers? (And even then, the jumpers would risk getting sucked into the engines.)

I suppose I can’t argue with the crew’s decision to constrain the woman, who was obviously undergoing some sort of a mental breakdown. The duct-tape method definitely seems rather harsh and extreme, but perhaps they don’t carry anything else that would have sufficed. Is that something that the airlines should already be looking into? Perhaps they need to train the flight crews and provide them with handcuffs in case someone totally loses it as this woman did. But if she was truly undergoing a psychotic episode, is it really fair to hit her with such a massive fine?

As I already mentioned, she wasn’t the only one receiving this treatment. Another woman exhibited very similar behavior during the same month on a Delta flight from Las Vegas to Atlanta. She began attempting to “hug and kiss” another passenger before also trying to open the passenger exit door. And she too bit a passenger who tried to restrain her. She was hit with a $77,272 fine. (The second-largest in history.)

It’s hard to deny that we’ve seen an increase in people seemingly going crazy on airline flights over the past couple of years. And not all of it comes as a result of people objecting to the pointless face mask mandates. Are we surprised? It seems like the whole world is going crazy some days. (As Tom MacDonald once said.) But if people are succumbing to legitimate psychotic episodes, the FAA might want to go a little easier on them when they’re handing out fines.

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