Delta brawl: Bloody melee erupts on flight after passenger uses seatback pocket
Police arrested Curtis Maurice Clayton at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport
Footage of a violent altercation aboard a Los Angeles-bound flight prior to take-off from Georgia has gone viral after a man was seen charging at a fellow passenger because he had placed something in his seatback pocket.
Authorities arrested 30-year-old Curtis Maurice Clayton at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport for allegedly initiating the fight with 43-year-old German Montez on Friday, October 29. Clayton is also said to have damaged a police car as he was being taken into custody. There has been an alarming spike in reports of in-flight altercations this year.
A man in a black jacket, presumed to be Clayton, is seen in cellphone footage punching a shorter man wearing a light blue hoodie before the flight crew and fellow passengers intervene and break up the fight. The man in the black jacket is then seen touching his left eye, which appears black and bloody. Both parties were reportedly unmasked.
Passengers watched in horror as the two men scuffled in the aisle, delaying the Delta Airlines flight by roughly 30 minutes after its scheduled take-off at 7.15 am. "I already missed a whole flight...Oh my God. It's literally f**king six am. Who's fighting at six am?" one of the upset passengers is heard saying in the clip. In a statement, Atlanta Police revealed that Clayton was "uncooperative with police and damaged a police vehicle during the investigation." He was subsequently booked into the Clayton County Jail on counts of battery and interference with government property. His bond wasn't set at the time of writing.
In a statement to Storyful, Delta said officers had "responded to an unruly customer during the boarding process." The statement added, "Civility at our airports and on our flights is paramount and something our people and customers deserve without exception. Delta will always put safety and security above all else."
This is the latest in a series of incidents of disorderly passengers disrupting flights across the country. MEAWW previously reported how an American Airlines flight from New York City to Orange County, California had to be diverted to Denver on Wednesday, October 27, after a female flight attendant was assaulted by a male passenger over a mask dispute.
#UPDATE: Witnesses said a a man suspected of attacking a female flight attendant, causing the American Airline's flight from JFK to John Wayne to divert to Denver, was having a dispute about wearing a mask. https://t.co/SyrtNVZudS pic.twitter.com/NDtQuEJuIj— CBS Los Angeles (@CBSLA) October 28, 2021
Witnesses aboard flight 976 recalled how Brian Hsu, 20, of Irvine, California, punched the flight attended twice in the face after refusing to comply with the airline's mask mandate. The incident caused the flight to make an emergency landing at Denver as it flew from JFK to John Wayne Airport. Fellow passenger Mackenzie Rose said she saw the flight attendant walk by after the incident "with blood on her mask". Meanwhile, a photo shared on social media showed crew members duct-taping the man to his seat.
According to the airline, the female crew member who sustained the blows was rushed to a local hospital upon landing. Some passengers claimed her nose was broken due to the assault, but this wasn't confirmed by the airline or airport authorities.
Earlier this year, the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) announced that it would begin to enforce a zero-tolerance policy against unruly passengers amid the alarming spike in reports of aggressive behavior on flights. In August, the agency revealed that it had issued more than $1 million in fines to such passengers in 2021 after more than 5,000 reports this year alone. According to the report, seventy-five percent of the altercations are mask-related.