‘Karen’ filmed hitting and spitting at 80-year-old unmasked man on Delta flight

·2-min read
‘Karen’ filmed hitting and spitting at 80-year-old unmasked man on Delta flight

Police say an unruly airline passenger has been arrested after a video appeared to show her physically assaulting an elderly man in a dispute over masks.

According to the Atlanta Police Department, numerous passengers said Patricia Cornwall “caused a disturbance” on a Delta Air Lines flight from Tampa, Florida to Atlanta, Georgia on 23 December.

When the plane arrived, police say, Ms Cornwall was arrested by FBI agents.

“This disturbance led to the injury of fellow passengers and Delta employees,” the APD said in a statement. “Based on the statements gathered and visible evidence, officers detained Ms Cornwall and contacted the on-call FBI agent. The officers then relocated with Ms Cornwall to the domestic Atlanta Police precinct where FBI agents responded and took custody of Ms Cornwall.”

Video of the incident shows Ms Cornwall standing over an elderly male passenger, seated, and telling him to “mask up”. Throughout the exchange, Ms Cornwall herself is not wearing a mask.

“I’m eating,” the man tells her, and the argument becomes more heated.

Eventually, Ms Cornwall appears to slap the man in the face. A flight attendant then grabs her arm, at the end of which Ms Cornwall has her fist clenched.

“Now you’re going to jail! That’s assault!” the man yells.

As the flight attendant tries to restrain her, Ms Cornwall then pushes her head in close to the man’s and appears to spit in his face.

A second flight attendant then pushes a coffee cart into Ms Cornwall, apparently trying to move her away. Soon he too is drawn into the fracas, as he tries to restrain both Ms Cornwall and the man, who at this point are both waving their arms and cursing at each other.

Eventually, a third flight attendant is finally able to take control of Ms Cornwall and pull her away. Meanwhile, the male passenger appears to be bleeding from his cheek.

Police have not announced any charges against Ms Cornwall. Even if charged, she would be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

In a statement, Delta Air Lines said it would not tolerate such behaviour.

“Flight 2790 from Tampa to Atlanta was met by law enforcement after an unruly customer disturbance during flight,” the airline told 11 Alive. “Situations like these are rare for the vast majority of our customers and Delta has zero tolerance for unruly behavior at our airports and aboard our aircraft.”

Since the Covid-19 pandemic began, the federal mask requirement on airlines has become a huge focus of disruptive behavior. Over the past year, there have been 5,779 unruly passenger reports, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. Of those, 4,156 were mask-related.

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