Updated: Flight Attendants Subdue Violent Passenger With Duct Tape

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On a Frontier Airlines flight from Philadelphia to Miami on Saturday, Aug. 7, 22-year-old Maxwell Berry allegedly sexually assaulted two female flight attendants and punched a male flight attendant. But what makes this now-commonplace occurrence stand out is that the flight attendants teamed up to force Berry into a seat—and duct-taped him in place.

Berry was intoxicated, according to arresting officers, and had been consuming alcohol on the flight. He was subsequently arrested and charged with three counts of battery.

Another passenger recorded parts of the incident on his cellphone, including Berry screaming about how wealthy his parents are. The video also records cheers and laughter from the rest of the passengers as Berry is being secured in the seat with tape.

According to an ABC News television report, Frontier has suspended the flight attendants. As part of the news report, the passenger who recorded the incident on video told the station he was angry the crew members were being punished.

Update: Frontier Airlines issued a statement that reads, in part: “Frontier Airlines maintains the utmost value, respect, concern, and support for all of our flight attendants, including those who were assaulted on this flight. We are supporting the needs of these team members and are working with law enforcement to fully support the prosecution of the passenger involved.”

Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

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21 COMMENTS

  1. As far as I understand it, the flight crew have the authority of the captain to detain passengers / incapacitate them with the minimum force necessary. I would go so far as to say that duct tape was lLESS than the minimum required in this case as he still had the power of speech and possible use of spittle as a weapon!

  2. Frontier have back tracked on the FA suspensions.

    While it’s unacceptable to molest the FA’s – somewhere Frontier need to look at if he was served alcohol in flight or if he should have even been allowed to board if he was that drunk to start with. “Cutting him off” in flight is never going to go well – if he was too drunk to begin with – better to not let him aboard to start with.

  3. They are FLIGHT CREW. When you attack the crew of an aircraft it is HIJACKING.
    Put them in a federal penitentiary for 20 to 30 years. The idiots can fight each other, but once they attack the FLIGHT CREW it is HIJACKING. They are attempting to take over control of the aircraft from the FLIGHT CREW.

    • Attacking flight crew is completely unacceptable, but it is not hijacking, unless they attempt to force a change in the course of the aircraft.
      Interfering with flight crew is it’s own crime.
      But by itself, it isn’t hijacking. Even if you capitalize it.

  4. Mr Berry is a disgusting dirtbag and should be banned from all airlines. The flight attendants should get a raise. The airlines are full and don’t need to carry drunks and maybe it is time to quit feeding alcohol to passengers.

  5. It’s not commonplace, it’s just every single incident makes the news. Are GA accidents commonplace? Automobile accidents are commonplace, with only some rarely being noted. When you say commonplace your are insinuating there is a problem we are not addressing. What are you suggesting, more legislation? More rules? The rules is behave yourself, always has been always will be. Some people are bad, don’t think making everyone else more miserable on commercial flight with more restrictions is going to improve bad people.

    • In all of 2020, there were 183 reports of unruly passengers, according to FAA records. In 2019, when airline schedules were full, there were 146. So far this year, the agency has reported well over 3,500. So by comparison, these incidents have become commonplace.

  6. Pure airline greed. Flights aren’t ocean cruises, just the concept of unvetted strangers from our increasingly immature, unstable society, using prescription or illegal drugs with who-knows-what interactions with alcohol, perhaps some with mental or emotional problems, swilling booze for a ‘two hour cruise’ in an aircraft with hundreds of others is irresponsible and ignorant. The CDC and TSA are trying to help keep Covid at bay by mandating masks on board, but unstable, paranoid drunks, Welcome! No need to worry, if you sexually assault or injure our flight crew or passengers, we’ll initially blame the victims! We are just as confused and screwed up as you are about political correctness and doing the right thing, So drink up!

    This scenario is almost as sickening to me as the one playing out currently in our race to the bottom to never reach herd immunity from the pandemic because of warped ideas between personal freedom- of course, without equally personal responsibility- and the greater freedom of selflessness and its many benefits.

    Ventilators over Vaccines is winning the day in our pursuit of herd immunity, and greed is winning the day against the freedom and health of flight crews everywhere. Please observe the ‘Fasten your seatbelt’ sign.

  7. Thinking about it some more, I think a low energy stun gun ought to be aboard every flight. Strict rules on usage could be widely published and — when an unruly pax exceeds the rule — BANG !!! NOW sit down. They oughta have zip ties, too.

    • Most flight crews I am familiar with (at least on the larger planes) have the handcuff type zip ties on board. But, a good Taser might be handy. The airlines probably don’t want the liability in case someone croaks after they have been “subdued”, but in cases like this the FA’s probably wished they had one. This sort of stuff is inexcusable, but the airlines are their own worst enemies sometimes. Serving booze on a plane should be limited to one drink per passenger max, and zero if the passenger appears intoxicated.

  8. Duct tape is a brilliant solution! The flight crew should get raises and be cheered as heroes. Of course, physically restraining unruly passengers doesn’t stop them from being verbally abusive and annoying to other passenger unless you cover their mouths with duct tape as well. If you use the toughest and most adhesive duct tape, it really hurts when it is taken off. I think the FARs already give flight crews the authority to do whatever they need to do to deal with dangerous passengers. The airlines are worried about lawsuits and loss of profits but they shouldn’t be. Unruly passengers and the risk of catching COVID have far more of an effect on their revenue than flight crews doing a service for the rest of the passengers and crew. Maybe some legislation and regulation changes are needed to make sure that the airlines and flight crews cannot be sued or prosecuted if they restrain an unruly passenger. Just drinking isn’t necessarily a problem as long as you don’t become an ugly drunk.

    • Actually, drinking is a problem whether you are unruly or not. In an emergency an intoxicated person is slower to react and might have trouble moving through the cabin. That may impede the safe evacuation of the plane. That is one reason why the FAA prohibits intoxicated people from boarding the plane.

  9. In the airline I recently retired from there were always handcuffs and law-enforcement tie-wraps onboard to restrain unruly passengers that became a threat to crew/passengers and/or flight safety. Captains authority. This is much safer than duct tape – especially in case of an emergency and the passenger has to be released for f.e. an evacuation. Duct tape might restrain a person, but is not safe should there be complications afterwards.