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United Airlines sends memo to flight attendants urging them not to duct tape unruly passengers


United Airlines has sent out a memo to its flight crew, advising them not to use duct tape to restrain unruly passengers during trips.

The memo, sent on Friday, came as videos of such incidents went viral in recent weeks, depicting flight attendants taping passengers to their seats mid-flight. 

‘Please remember that there are designated items onboard that may be used in difficult situations, and alternative measures such as tape should never be used,’ the memo read. 

The memo came from John Slater, United’s senior vice president of Inflight Services, and referenced two taping incidents that occurred in July, Newsweek reported. 

On a July 31 Frontier Airlines flight, allegedly drunk passenger Maxwell Berry was accused of groping two flight attendants and punching a third on a flight from Philadelphia to Miami 

Maxwell Berry, 22, was then duct-taped to his seat

He was arrested on three counts of battery after the incident

Berry, 22, was then duct-taped to his seat and arrested on three counts of battery

‘As you’ve likely seen, a few airlines have recently made news about the way they’ve handled situations onboard. The overwhelming majority of our customers have been on their best behavior throughout the pandemic and returned to our flights with confidence and enthusiasm,’ Slater wrote. 

‘When things have evolved, you’ve relied on all aspects of inflight safety training, including de-escalation.’ 

In the memo, Slate brought up the case of Maxwell Berry, 22, who was allegedly drunk on a Frontier Airlines flight between Philadelphia and Miami on July 21. 

Police said Berry groped two female flight attendants and punched a male flight attendant before the staff restrained him in the seat with duct tape. 

Videos showed Berry on the flight shouting ‘Help me’ and trying to wring free from the duct tape, which also covered his mouth. 

The memo also made reference to a July 6 incident, where an unidentified woman aboard an American Airline flight allegedly tried to open a plane door and bit a flight attendant. 

A female passenger ended up having 'a mental health episode' on a flight from Dallas to Charlotte and was duct taped to her seat along with having tape placed over her mouth

A female passenger ended up having ‘a mental health episode’ on a flight from Dallas to Charlotte and was duct taped to her seat along with having tape placed over her mouth 

Law enforcement officers were also waiting for the female passenger as she deplaned

Law enforcement officers were also waiting for the female passenger as she deplaned

The FAA said that airlines have reported more than 3,000 incidents involving unruly passengers since January 1

The FAA said that airlines have reported more than 3,000 incidents involving unruly passengers since January 1

The woman, who was believed to be suffering from a ‘mental health episode,’ was restrained to her seat with tape nearing the end of a three-hour flight, with video of the incident shared on TikTok. 

‘While in flight from Dallas-Fort Worth to Charlotte on July 6, the crew on board American Airlines flight 1774 reported a potential security concern after a customer attempted to open the forward boarding door and physically assaulted, bit and caused injury to a flight attendant,’ a statement from American Airlines read.

‘For the safety and security of other customers and our crew, the individual was restrained until the flight landed at CLT and could be met by law enforcement and emergency personnel,’ the statement continued.

Yet another incident occurred on American Airlines earlier this month when an 11-year-old boy with autism was duct-taped to his seat after suffering a meltdown.  

He had been fighting with his mom, who is disabled and had a difficult time getting her son to calm down, a source told DailyMail.com.

The chaotic scene stressed out the autistic boy’s brother, whose age is unknown, and he panicked and tried to break the plane window while the they were in the air, according to the source.

The flight diverted to Honolulu, where the family and other customers were ‘re-accommodated on other flights or provided hotel accommodations,’ an American Airlines spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

Flight attendants used duct tape to restrain the 13-year-old boy with autism who had a medical meltdown midflight and couldn't be consoled

Flight attendants used duct tape to restrain the 13-year-old boy with autism who had a medical meltdown midflight and couldn’t be consoled

These types of unruly passenger behavior has become a common problem for flight attendants in 2021, according to a study released by the flight attendants union on July 29. 

It included nearly 5,000 responses from flight attendants across 30 airlines between June 25 to July 14.  

The online study said 85 percent of flight attendants have dealt with unruly passengers; nearly 1 in 5 have experienced physical incidents in 2021; and 71 percent of flight attendants who filed incident reports to management received no follow up. 

Duct taping passengers can be common practice, with United Airlines reporting such incidents aboard their own flight in 2003, 2008 and 2018, The Washington Post reported. 

The International Air Transport Association said in a statement that passengers are only ever restrained as a last result if other efforts to get a situation under control have not worked.

“Cabin crew are trained in de-escalation and restraint techniques and equipment (if carried) by their airline,” the statement said. “There is no industry standard restraint equipment, so it is up to the individual airline. Some airlines may equip their cabins with kits that include restraint devices.”



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