Chaos erupted aboard a Southwest Airlines plane in Dallas when one passenger unleashed a torrent of punches on another, in an attack captured in viral video, officials said Wednesday.
In the latest incident of unruly passenger behavior, Phoenix-bound travelers were boarding Flight 117 at Love Field when a man in a tan blazer stood over a heavily tattooed man and started pummeling him, video footage showed.
Moments earlier, the man in the blazer had approached the tattooed gentleman, asked for his address “and he actually gave him the address and then he just started punching him,” witness Caitlin Johnson, 32, told NBC News on Wednesday.
Johnson, a speech language pathologist in Arizona who was just a few rows behind the chaos, said the tattooed man was seated and in no position to fight back or defend himself.
“He probably punched the guy a good four times before anyone started recording,” Johnson said.
Minutes earlier in the gate area, the tattooed man had allegedly accidentally bumped into the the wife of his eventual attacker, Johnson said she learned from other travelers.
“The blazer guy just kind of lost it, he snapped, he was triggered by that,” Johnson said. “People waiting said that blazer guy started mouthing off to him (after the bump) outside the plane and he just ignored him.”
Other travelers jumped into the fray to break it up before both men were taken off the plane.
SWA acknowledged that the incident happened but declined to elaborate.
“Nothing to share other than to say our Flight Crews are well trained in de-escalation and we commend them for managing the situation and ensuring the Safety and Comfort of the other passengers in the cabin,” according to a statement from the Dallas-based carrier.
The man who was beaten didn’t want to leave the plane but ground personnel insisted he exit to get treatment.
“Someone came up to the tattoo guy and said, ‘Sir you have to get off the plane, you need medical attention,’ ” Johnson said. “He said, ‘I can’t I have to go to work.’ But he got off. His face was swollen like a baseball, he was in rough shape.”
A Dallas police representative confirmed that officers responded to the plane at Love Field that day but declined any further comment.
No arrests were made.
SWA spokesman Chris Perry on Wednesday declined to say whether the airline was taking any action against the unruly passenger or if he’d be welcomed back on future flights: “Nothing else to share from us.”
Johnson said she reached out to the man in the tan blazer via his Instagram, and he apologized for Monday’s brouhaha.
“I’m not proud of my actions,” he wrote, according to a screen capture Johnson took of their IG chat.
The man said he’s seeking counseling and urged any youngsters who saw the video to “please walk away cuz violence is not the answer.”
The SWA incident happened one day after a man aboard a United Airlines flight from Los Angeles to Boston allegedly tried to open a plane’s emergency exit door and then attacked a flight attendant.
Chantal Da Silva contributed.