American Airlines passenger, duct-taped for unruly behaviour, sued for unpaid fine - Hindustan Times

American Airlines passenger, duct-taped for unruly behaviour, sued for unpaid fine

Jun 17, 2024 04:35 AM IST

FAA has sued a 34-year-old woman demonstrating violent behaviour onboard a 2021 American Airlines flight for not paying the record fine of $81,950.

Heather Wells, a 34-year-old American woman, was gagged and duct-taped to her seat after she allegedly attempted to open an aircraft door mid-flight while aboard an American Airlines aircraft in 2021. She has now reportedly been sued by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for failing to pay the lofty fine for also attacking co-passengers on the plane.

Heather Well, 34, restrained by duct tape, has been sued by the FAA.
Heather Well, 34, restrained by duct tape, has been sued by the FAA.

The passenger was accused of causing a ruckus on the plane by “biting” and spitting at staff members and others. The viral video of her being bound to the seat with duct tape during the aftermath has surfaced online. Wells was reportedly flying from Dallas to Charlotte, North Carolina, on July 6, 2021.

American Airlines passenger sued by FAA

US attorney Jaime Esparza has sued the 34-year-old woman in San Antonio's federal court on behalf of the FAA. The lawsuit was reportedly first viewed by San Antonio Express.

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According to the lawsuit filed on June 6, Wells was on board the aircraft as a business class passenger who “wanted out.” She'd previously purportedly ordered an alcoholic beverage and became “increasingly agitated and wanted to get out of the plane.”

The complaint also added that Wells “continued to kick and spit and attempted to bite and head-butt a flight attendant” despite being restrained to her seat. Wells even attempted to grab the handle of the front cabin door. She was accused of “talking incoherently to passengers, before crawling back toward the cabin.” While a flight attendant tried to intervene, she got rough with them too and “yelled profanities” until two other attendants restrained her.

While the passenger was held back in her seat, she continued her violent behaviour, and “attempted to bite and head-butt a flight attendant and passengers.” Although she endangered the safety of the individuals on the aircraft, no criminal charges have seemingly been pushed against her. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department said via The Independent that it was only recorded as an “inflight violation.”

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As her unruly behaviour continued, she was eventually sedated and later removed from the flight once it landed at the Charlotte airport.

Additionally, USA Today reported that Wells' fine is split into $45,000 for assaulting and threatening crew members, $27,950 for trying to open the cabin door mid-flight and $9,000 for interfering with the crew member's duties.

The FAA said on Wednesday, “Travelers will pay for misbehaving.” The agency also announced that any passenger “who assaults, threatens, intimidates, or interferes with airline crewmembers, and can propose civil penalties up to $37,000 per violation.”

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