22-year-old Maxwell Berry was detained and charged with three counts of battery in connection to the alleged incident.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published on August 4, 2021. It has since been updated.
A shocking video that recently surfaced shows crew members of a Frontier Airlines flight duct-taping one of its passengers to his seat after he allegedly groped two flight attendants and punched one more in the face. 22-year-old Maxwell Berry was identified as the passenger on the July 31 flight that had departed from Philadelphia for its destination city Miami. According to local news station WPLG, Berry was detained and charged with three counts of battery in connection to the alleged incident.
Alfredo Rivera was one of the passengers who witnessed the whole thing and even filmed the incident. In the clip, Berry could be heard yelling and cursing people around him. Things escalated quickly after he groped the breasts of two female flight attendants and punched a man who tried to get him under control. As a result, he was forcefully strapped into his seat with tape. "He started to get aggressive and basically attack the male flight attendant," recalled Rivera.
Frontier passenger allegedly touched 2 flight attendants breasts, then screamed his parents are worth $2 million, before punching a flight attendant. Frontier suspended the crew for duct taping the passenger to his seat as they landed in Miami. 22 yr old Max Berry is in custody. pic.twitter.com/4xS9Rwvafx— Sam Sweeney (@SweeneyABC) August 3, 2021
Apparently, Berry had been drinking on the flight. He had two drinks before spilling some on his shirt and then making his way to the bathroom so he could take it off. A flight attendant helped him get another shirt from his carry-on but after this, he reportedly began wandering shirtless for around 15 minutes and that's when the groping incident allegedly happened. When a male attendant came over to deescalate the situation, he was subjected to violence, reports ABC7. As the incident is being investigated, the Frontier told HuffPost that the flight attendants involved would be "relieved of flying" until the matter is closed.
If @FlyFrontier doesn't equip the plane or the attendants with any way to protect themselves after being assaulted or the other passengers then being duct taped is absolutely reasonable. @flyfrontier suspending the crew is just wrong.— Stacey H (@staceyh1970) August 3, 2021
"During a flight from Philadelphia to Miami on July 31, a passenger made inappropriate physical contact with a flight attendant and subsequently physically assaulted another flight attendant. As a result, the passenger needed to be restrained until the flight landed in Miami and law enforcement arrived. The flight attendants will be, as required in such circumstances, relieved of flying pending completion of investigation of the events," read their statement.
Duct taping him is equivalent to holding him hostage. I thought Air Marshals were aboard every flight.— ✊🏿I think we can all agree that Black Women✊🏿 (@Glamuary) August 3, 2021
But soon enough the airline began facing massive backlash over the suspension of the flight attendants. Even the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA union criticized this move with a statement that reads, "Flight Attendants have faced an onslaught of disruptions on our flights this year. The situation on Frontier this weekend is one of the worst examples. A drunk and irate passenger verbally, physically, and sexually assaulted multiple members of the crew. When he refused to comply after multiple attempts to de-escalate, the crew was forced to restrain the passenger with the tools available to them on board. We are supporting the crew."
There aren't Air Marshals on every flight. Maybe there needs to be.— l Bark Loudly (@barkley_al) August 4, 2021
"Management suspended the crew as a knee-jerk reaction to a short video clip that did not show the full incident," continued union President Sara Nelson. "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. As noted in our unruly passenger survey, if this is not immediately corrected, Flight Attendants may feel unsafe to come to work. Management has a legal duty to maintain a safe work environment for employees," concluded the statement.
However, a Frontier spokesperson noted that the flight attendants were being paid while on leave. "The inflight crew members’ current paid leave status is in line with an event of this nature pending an investigation," explained the spokesperson. Meanwhile, an earlier statement from ABC News revealed that the airlines suspended the flight attendants because they did not follow "the proper policies" for restraining a passenger. A similar case happened last month when flight attendants on an American Airlines flight from Dallas-Forth Worth to Charlotte restrained a woman with duct tape after she attempted to open the door midflight saying she didn't want the plane to fly anymore.
The Washington Post reported that the flight attendants first "kindly tried to console her and calm her" but when nothing worked they used duct tape to restrain her wrists and feet. She became more violent and erratic after this and began kicking and yelling opprobrious terms. Thus she was duct-taped to her seat by employees. Later American Airlines confirmed the incident and said that the crew had reported a "potential security concern" after the women tried to open the boarding door and "physically assaulted and bit a flight attendant." But none of the crew members were suspended back then. In fact, the airlines praised the crew for "their professionalism and quick effort to protect those on board."
Cover image source: YouTube Screenshot | ABC7 News