Patricia Cornwall physically attacked another passenger and invoked the name of a civil rights icon in a dispute over seating and mask-wearing
A pre-Christmas flight got dicey when a woman now dubbed 'Airline Karen' got into an altercation with another passenger.
The ATL Uncensored Twitter account posted a nearly two-minute video of a woman standing with her mask down below her chin while on Flight 2790 from Tampa, Florida on Dec. 23. The woman repeatedly tells an older male passenger who is seated to put his mask on.
The incident reportedly started when 51-year-old Patricia Cornwall was trying to get back to her seat but a beverage cart blocked her way. When told to take an open seat until the cart moved enough for her to return, she allegedly said "Who am I, Rosa Parks?"
The passenger seated nearby told her "You're not Black, this isn't Alabama, and this isn't a bus."
That lead to the confrontation recorded by one of the plane's passengers, which was acquired by ATL Uncensored and went viral.
WARNING: Profane language, NSFW
"Sit down, Karen. You're a god-- Karen, sit down," the man fires, to the vocal amusement of other passengers. The back-and-forth continues as flight attendants attempt to defuse the situation.
When the man calls her a "b--", Cornwall strikes him in the face and continues attempting to attack him as an attendant holds her back and the man yells, "That's assault, now you're going to jail!"
Cornwall then spits on the man and they continue to verbally spar with each other as she's dragged away by flight attendants and other passengers.
A former Playboy model and actress, Cornwall was taken into police and then FBI custody when the flight landed in Atlanta. Per Heavy, she spent Christmas Day in jail and was allowed to fly home to Los Angeles after posting a $20K bond.
Airlines have had to contend with an multiple incidents involving customers refusing to wear masks or becoming combative while traveling during the COVID-19 pandemic. An American Airlines plane from New York to California was diverted in October when a passenger allegedly assaulted a flight attendant over his refusal to wear a mask, breaking her nose and sending her to the hospital.
"The individual involved in this incident will never be allowed to travel with American Airlines in the future, but we will not be satisfied until he has been prosecuted to the full extent of the law," the airline said in a statement. "This behavior must stop, and aggressive enforcement and prosecution of the law is the best deterrent."
According to the Federal Aviation Administration, there have been 5,779 "unruly passenger" reports and 4,156 mask-related incidents this year as of Dec. 21. The federal mask mandate requires passengers to wear a mask when not eating or drinking.
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