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Frontier Airlines Passenger Taped To Seat After Allegedly Groping And Assaulting Crew

A Frontier Airlines aircraft at Denver International Airport in 2020. A 22-year-old passenger faces three misdemeanor charges after allegedly groping two flight attendants and assaulting a third.
A Frontier Airlines aircraft at Denver International Airport in 2020. A 22-year-old passenger faces three misdemeanor charges after allegedly groping two flight attendants and assaulting a third.

A passenger aboard a Frontier Airlines flight has been charged with three counts of battery. The passenger is accused of inappropriately touching two female flight attendants and punching a male attendant on Saturday. The flight crew then restrained the unruly passenger and used tape to ensure he stayed seated for the remainder of the flight.

While traveling from Philadelphia to Miami, Maxwell Wilkinson Berry, 22, was caught on camera shouting at the flight crew and other passengers. "My parents are worth more than f****** 2 million goddamn dollars!" Berry shouted. He continued to cry out, hollering at everyone within earshot, and declared that his grandfather is an attorney.

The video shows passengers erupting with laughter as Berry continued to scream. It then cuts to Berry taking a swing at a male flight attendant during a physical altercation. The flight attendant called for help and other members of the flight crew can be seen coming to his aid. The video then cuts to the same male flight attendant securing Berry to his seat, utilizing a large roll of duct tape. Passengers can once again be heard laughing and cheering in the background.

A version of the video posted by ABC Reporter Sam Sweeney on Twitter had been viewed 9.7 million times at the time of reporting. It was retweeted over 40,000 times, including by Berry himself, who claims he was "treated like livestock,"

"This will forever be the most dehumanizing experience in my entire life," Berry wrote. "Many people laughed and ridiculed me as I was mistreated by staff of a PROFESSIONAL airline."

In a separate video, Berry can be seen from the side, his mouth partially covered with tape. City lights in the background can be seen as the plane prepares to land. Berry calls out for help as he thrashes his head to remove the tape. His cries, however, are met with laughter and teasing from the other passengers.

Miami-Dade Police charged Berry with three misdemeanor counts of battery, according to the police report. The Miami Herald reported that Berry had been drinking.

The 22-year old at one point spilled a drink on his shirt and retreated to the bathroom, only to emerge without his top on. A member of the crew helped Berry retrieve a clean shirt from his carry-on luggage.

After wandering about the plane for about 15 minutes, Berry was speaking with a flight attendant before he allegedly grabbed her breasts, The Miami Herald reported.

Berry was arrested after the plane touched down.

Frontier initially said the crew was suspended because the passenger wasn't restrained using the proper procedures. But a statement from the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA President Sara Nelson called on Frontier Airlines to support the crew.

"Flight Attendants have faced an onslaught of disruptions on our flights this year. The situation on Frontier this weekend is one of the worst examples," the statement read. "A drunk and irate passenger verbally, physically, and sexually assaulted multiple members of the crew. When he refused to comply after multiple attempts to de-escalate, the crew was forced to restrain the passenger with the tools available to them onboard."

The airline has now told multiple news outlets that the crew is on paid leave pending an investigation.

This type of disruption is becoming more frequent

In recent months, an uptick in violence against flight crews has resulted in some airlines suspending onboard alcohol sales.

Southwest Airlines suspended alcohol sales after Vyvianna Quinone, 28, punched a flight attendant in the face, knocking out two teeth, NPR previously reported.

The Federal Aviation Administration reported 3,271 cases of unruly behavior by passengers in the first half of 2021. This included some 2,475 instances where passengers refused to comply with the federal face mask mandate.

The FAA said it has proposed more than $682,000 in fines against unruly passengers in that same six-month period, with fines ranging from $7,500 to $21,500.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Dustin Jones is a reporter for NPR's digital news desk. He mainly covers breaking news, but enjoys working on long-form narrative pieces.