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Woman arrested after punching Southwest Airlines worker, sending her to the hospital

37 unruly passenger cases referred to FBI
37 unruly passenger cases referred to FBI 00:26

A woman has been arrested after she punched a Southwest Airlines employee in the head during boarding, sending the worker to the hospital, police said.

Arielle Jean Jackson, 32, was arrested Saturday afternoon at Love Field in Dallas, police said. Jackson has been charged with aggravated assault, according to law enforcement officials. 

The incident happened during the boarding process for a flight from Dallas to New York's La Guardia Airport, Southwest Airlines spokesman Chris Mainz said.

Police said that Jackson first had a verbal altercation with an operations agent at the back of the plane and was asked to exit. As Jackson was leaving, she had another verbal altercation with a second operations agent that turned physical, with Jackson punching the agent on the head, police said.

Mainz said the the operations agent, a woman, was taken to a hospital and released Saturday night.

"Southwest Airlines maintains a zero-tolerance policy regarding any type of harassment or assault and fully support our Employee as we cooperate with local authorities regarding this unacceptable incident," Mainz said in a statement.

Flight diverted after passenger attacks attendant 02:07

Jackson was in Dallas County jail on Sunday on $10,000 bond. Jail records did not list an attorney for her.

Reports of airplane passengers acting violent or disruptive have been increasing since the COVID-19 pandemic, with more than 5,000 incidents of unruly behavior recorded this year alone. 

The Federal Aviation Administration has so far referred 37 incidents for criminal penalties. Meanwhile, passengers have been hit with more than $1 million in fines for alleged behavior including throwing luggage at other passengers, assaulting flight crew, refusing to wear masks and snorting cocaine in an airplane bathroom.

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