Extraordinary reports are emerging of violent behaviour aboard an Emirates flight to Melbourne, involving a female flight attendant being punched many times in the face. If true, the assault could well draw a jail sentence in many parts of the world – yet the passenger was allowed to catch his onward connection to New Zealand, apparently without penalty.
A passenger on the flight, who identified himself as Matt Naylor, told Melbourne radio station 3AW that the alleged assailant, a man travelling with a young boy, wanted more space to lie down and became irate when he didn’t get it. The incident is said to have escalated rapidly, with the passenger punching a female flight attendant in the face several times and ending up cable-tied to his seat.
Naylor said he saw the “aftermath” of the passenger’s alleged assault of the flight attendant.
“And then a male flight attendant, another gentleman and myself sort of jumped on the man and pushed him to the ground,” Naylor said.
Naylor told 3AW that crew used cable ties to bind the passenger’s hands and feet to restrain him, then forced him back into his seat where an extended seatbelt was strapped around him.
“He would have had the strength of 10 men,” Naylor added.
Naylor said the flight attendant told him that she was punched in the face “a few times”.
Naylor added that the passenger tried to head-butt two flight attendants attempting to offer him water. He described the passenger as “very irritated, very worked up, crying, yelling” but not seemingly drunk. After the passenger was restrained, he spent the next five or six hours screaming and head-butting his seat.
Not surprisingly, Australian Federal Police (AFP) met the flight on arrival in Melbourne – and that’s when the story takes a sudden unexpected turn.
No charges were laid. The man “wasn’t arrested due to personal circumstances”, Melbourne’s Herald Sun reported. The Age, which ran the story under the headline “Hostess ‘punched’ in horror flight to Melbourne” added that the passenger was allowed to take his connecting flight to Auckland.
Emirates gave the following statement to the Gulf-based news site Emirates 24/7:
“On Emirates flight EK406 arriving from Dubai into Melbourne on August 20, there was an incident with a passenger that resulted in the passenger being restrained.
“The Federal Police were called and met the plane on arrival to assess the situation.
“After this assessment, it was agreed that the passenger would meet their connecting flight onto Auckland and did so with no issues.”
Emirates added the usual statement about the health and safety of its crew and passengers being of paramount importance.
The whole incident has left travellers scratching their heads in bewilderment and disbelief. How can somebody get away with that behaviour? On the face of it, it appears inexplicable. Airline body IATA, which is campaigning to stop violence in the air, will no doubt be taking a good look at the incident.
Written by Peter Needham