SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) – A Southwest Airlines pilot is under investigation for allegedly assaulting a flight attendant at a California bar during an argument over wearing masks, authorities have said.
The pilot was cited for assault and battery in connection with the Oct. 18 dispute at a hotel bar in San Jose, USA Today reported Tuesday.
The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office is reviewing the incident to determine whether criminal charges should be filed, the San Jose Police Sgt. Christian Camarillo told the news agency.
The name of the pilot was not disclosed.
The incident comes amid an increase in unruly air passengers this year, who are turning violent at times.
Airlines reported around 3,000 cases of disruptive passengers between Jan. 1 and mid-June, according to the Federal Aviation Administration, which began tracking it this year. About 2,300 of these incidents involved passengers refusing to obey the federal requirement to wear a face mask.
The hotel bar incident “involved a disagreement over wearing masks or masks,” Camarillo said, declining to provide further details.
There was a “disagreement with the crew on an overnight trip” and the pilot was put on leave while the incident was investigated, the spokesperson for Southwest, Brandy King, at USA Today.
“We do not have any information to provide regarding the background of the event and we are not discussing staff issues externally,” King said.
USA Today reported that a few days after the incident, Southwest sent a note to pilots and flight attendants warning them that, “Crossing the line in a heated conversation may be a violation of our guidelines for employees and may even result in a job loss. “
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