Man Faces Assault Charges After Diverted Dallas Flight

American Airlines Plane
American Airlines Plane | Image by GagliardiPhotography/Shutterstock

A Las Vegas man was arrested after allegedly assaulting an American Airlines flight attendant on a Montana-bound flight from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport this Wednesday.

Keith Edward Fagiana will make his first federal court appearance on charges of interfering with a flight crew on Monday in Amarillo, where his flight was diverted to after the incident.

As related by a flight attendant in a statement to the FBI, Fagiana allegedly became violent when the attendant asked him to stop kicking another passenger’s seat, according to the Associated Press. Although Fagiana was eventually subdued by flight attendants and passengers, he reportedly struck the employee several times.

After the flight made an emergency landing at Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport, Fagiana was said to have continued his violent outburst. He allegedly fought with police officers as they removed him from the plane, kicking one in the groin and spitting at the others.

During his interview with the FBI, Fagiana allegedly confessed to having consumed some rum before the flight but claimed to have no recollection of what transpired afterward.

Responding to the incident, a spokesperson with the Association of Professional Flight Attendants said, “This violent behavior must stop,” according to Fox 4 KDFW.

Flight disruptions caused by unruly passengers reached an alarming peak of almost 6,000 in 2021, with the Federal Aviation Administration logging 2,075 such incidents in 2023.

In September 2022, a California man was accused of punching an American Airlines flight attendant during a flight from Cabo to Los Angeles, as previously covered by The Dallas Express. The incident was captured on camera by another passenger.

As explained by Rob McCallum, a pilot and aviation attorney, causing a disturbance on a commercial flight and forcing it to be diverted is a serious offense.

“Felony convictions under federal law can carry with them not only fines and penalties but very severe and lengthy periods of jail time,” he said, according to Fox 4.

In Dallas, there have already been 242 reports of assault — 65 of them aggravated assaults — this year as of January 4, according to the City’s crime analytics dashboard. The crime rate remains high despite the best efforts of the Dallas Police Department, which struggles with a significant officer shortage.

A City report recommended a force of about 4,000 officers, yet DPD fields only around 3,000. Downtown Dallas is a crime hot spot, logging considerably higher rates of crime than its neighbor Fort Worth’s downtown area, which is reportedly patrolled by private security guards and a special police unit.

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