Flight Attendants Placed On Leave After Taping Passenger To His Seat

by Erica Gerald Mason

The airline is investigating the incident, which occurred on a flight from Philadelphia to Miami

As Americans return to air travel following a year of (mostly) sheltering in place, reports of in-air incidents involving difficult passengers have begun to surface. Some altercations involve the refusal to wear masks, while others…well…are due to other issues. In what can undeniably be described as a bad day for all involved, Frontier flight attendants, with the help of passengers, had to tape an unruly passenger to his seat Saturday during a flight from Philadelphia to Miami.

The passenger, identified by the Miami-Dade Police Department as Maxwell Wilkinson Berry, had consumed two drinks, spilled a third on himself, was wandering the cabin shirtless, and allegedly groped the breasts of two female flight attendants, according to a police report.

Berry was caught on video yelling at the flight crew and other passengers. “My parents are worth more than f****** 2 million goddamn dollars!” Berry shouted. The video shows passengers laughing as Berry screamed. The clip then shows Berry taking a swing at a male flight attendant, who called for help from other members of the flight crew. The video then cuts to the same male flight attendant securing Berry to his seat, utilizing a large roll of duct tape.

Upon landing in Miami, Berry was arrested and is currently facing three charges of battery.

For his part, Berry claims the experience was “the most dehumanizing experience in my entire life,” going on to say that people “laughed and ridiculed” him.

According to Good Morning America, Frontier said the flight attendants involved had been “suspended pending further investigation” because they did not follow the proper policies for restraining a passenger.

After backlash from the flight attendants union, Frontier elaborated on an earlier statement the flight attendants involved had been suspended because they did not follow the proper policies for restraining a passenger. The new statement from the airline said the parties involved were on paid leave which is “in line with an event of this nature pending an investigation.”

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

“Management suspended the crew as a knee-jerk reaction to a short video clip that did not show the full incident. Management should be supporting the crew at this time not suspending them. We will be fighting this with every contractual and legal tool available, but we would hope there will be no need for that as management comes to their senses and supports the people on the frontline charged with keeping all passengers safe,” Sara Nelson, the president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, said in a statement Tuesday.

Good Morning America reported on the results from a survey of flight attendants. The survey showed that flight attendants recount incidents in which passengers verbally abused them, “aggressively” challenged them for making sure passengers were in compliance with the federal mask mandate, shoved them, kicked airline seats, threw their trash at them and purposely messed up restrooms on the plane.

“I’ve been yelled at, cursed at and threatened countless times in the last year and the most that has come out of it has been a temporary suspension of travel for the passenger,” one flight attendant wrote in the survey. “We need real consequences if flight attendants are ever going to feel safe at work again.”

It remains to be seen what measures the airline will put in place to empower flight attendants to make decisions regarding their (and passenger) safety.