A woman flying from Fort Lauderdale to Nashville allegedly attacked two flight attendants and was zip-tied by another passenger Saturday, according to multiple news reports. It's the latest in what has been thousands of reports of unruly passengers on commercial flights this year.
The crew told officers the woman, 42, had pulled the hair of one flight attendant and punched another, The Tennessean reported. At some point, another passenger tried to tie the woman's feet with zip ties, WKRN added.
Police took the woman into custody for public intoxication. Officers reportedly described her as having bloodshot eyes and they could smell alcohol on her breath.
The woman reportedly was unable to walk on her own and yelled expletives at the officers, including telling them "I didn't do anything wrong" and "shoot me." She also allegedly stiffened her legs while in the patrol car to try keeping officers from closing the door, the reports said.
Jail records reportedly indicate the woman posted bond and was released Sunday morning.
The crew of the flight did not want to press charges, the reports said. WKRN said it received a statement from Spirit Airlines.
"We do not tolerate aggressive behavior of any kind, and this passenger is no longer welcome on any of our flights," the airline said. "Thank you to our Guests who assisted our crew and local law enforcement for their assistance. We will work with the relevant authorities to ensure this individual is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
The Federal Aviation Administration said last week it has received nearly 300 reports of passenger disturbances due to alcohol and intoxication this year. It is illegal to consume alcohol on a flight if its not served by the flight crew, but it's unclear if that was the case in Saturday's incident.
As of Nov. 23, the FAA said it has received 5,338 reports of unruly passengers in 2021. The majority of those -- 3,856 -- were related to people not properly wearing face masks. But the FAA said the rate has dropped in half since early 2021 when the agency announced its zero tolerance policy.
The FAA said it has initiated 1,012 investigations into the incidents this year. That's almost as many as the previous eight years combined.
Attorney General Merrick Garland directed U.S. attorneys across the country last week to swiftly prioritize prosecution of federal crimes that happen on commercial flights. The FAA has initiated 266 enforcement cases and has referred 37 incidents to the FBI for possible criminal prosecution.
In addition to a passenger potentially being banned from flying, fines for unruly behavior can be hefty. The FAA said it recently proposed $161,823 in fines against eight people for alleged alcohol-related unruly behavior. The FAA can propose up to $37,000 per violation.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.