Frontier Airlines stands with crew who duct-taped handsy, violent passenger to his seat

By , KYW Newsradio

Frontier Airlines is now expressing full support of the crew that duct-taped an Ohio man to his seat on a flight from Philadelphia to Miami late Saturday night. Police say the passenger groped two flight attendants and punched another.

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The flight attendants had been placed on leave per airline protocol, but Frontier is now saying the crew involved will not lose out on any paychecks, and that the incident is still under investigation.

Another passenger captured some of the kerfuffle on cell phone video.

Police say drunk 22-year-old Maxwell Barry of Norwalk, Ohio, is charged with three counts of battery.

They say Barry got two drinks on the plane then walked around shirtless after spilling a third drink on himself. They say he argued with passengers and cursed out loud, groped two female flight attendants, and punched a male flight attendant who tried to calm him.

Cell phone video that went viral shows the crew and some passengers subduing Barry with a seat belt extender and duct tape to keep him in his seat for the rest of the trip.

Upon landing, Miami Dade police arrested Barry.

There has been a jump in complaints about unruly air passengers. This latest may be an extreme example, but it is not the first involving duct tape. Nearly a month ago, an American Airlines crew used the stuff to restrain a woman who they say tried to open a door mid-flight.

CBS Travel Editor Peter Greenberg says the FAA has received more than 3,600 complaints about unruly passengers. The vast majority involve people who refuse to wear masks.

But a far more disturbing number, Greenberg says, comes from a survey done by the flight attendants union: 84% of their workers have reported and dealt with an unruly passenger — and in 17% of those cases, it was a physical altercation.

Greenberg said the unions are appealing to the U.S. Department of Justice to make that behavior a federal offense.

In many of these cases, he said, alcohol was involved.

"You're in an aluminum cylinder at 35,000 feet, and there's alcohol involved. Gee, what could go wrong?" Greenberg said. "Everything."

Both American Airlines and Southwest Airlines have refused to serve alcohol on flights until the end of September, when the mask mandate will come under review. And now retail operations at the airports are also considering a ban on alcohol sales within 30 to 45 minutes of the departure time printed on a passenger's boarding pass.

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