‘Inexcusable attack’: Southwest Airlines bans passenger who punched gate agent

(NEXSTAR) – A man who attacked a gate agent at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport has been banned from flying with Southwest Airlines.

The man, identified as Courtney Drummond, was also arrested and charged with simple battery, battery and obstruction.

Officers with the Atlanta Police Department say Drummond was aboard an aircraft that was scheduled to depart Tuesday morning, but he became unruly and “refused to comply with the flight attendants.” The plane returned to the gate, and Drummond was removed.

Afterward, police say Drummond threatened and assaulted a Southwest staffer. Footage of the incident that began circulating on social media appears to show the suspect stepping behind a gate agent’s desk and punching him in the face.

“Southwest Airlines has zero tolerance for any type of assault against our Employees or Customers,” the carrier wrote in a statement shared with Nexstar. “As a result of this inexcusable attack, the individual has been banned from flying with Southwest Airlines.”

Southwest thanked its team for attempting to diffuse the situation, as well as the Atlanta Police Department for responding to the scene. The airline “fully supports” the police investigation, the airline added.

Drummond was transported to a county jail following the incident, police confirmed in a press release.

Officials with the FAA had previously acknowledged a “disturbing increase” in reports of unruly passengers in early 2021, specifically noting a “proliferation” of such conduct stemming from passengers’ refusal to wear masks, and “following the January 6, 2021 violence at the US Capitol,” according to an order signed by FAA Chief Steve Dickson.

The rate of disturbances has dropped in recent months, though it still remains higher than it was in 2020, according to FAA records.

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