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Video Shows Airport Attendant Punching Passenger Holding a Child

The man retaliated, shoving his hand into the attendant’s shoulder and then his face. The attendant, regaining his footing, lunged forward and threw a jab into the man’s face. People gasped.

It was not clear if the man was hurt, but that moment epitomized how the patience of passengers is tested at every turn, from malfunctioning ticket kiosks to painfully slow lines at security to cramped seats in coach. On Saturday, it was another frustration of air travel — a delayed flight — that caused the easyJet passengers to lose it.

That flight has a 61 percent on-time performance record, according to the website FlightStats.

Arabella Arkwright, a passenger who posted a photo of the employee punching the man, said the passengers were allowed to board the flight but were held on it for two hours because of a mishap during refueling.

They were allowed to return to the terminal, she said, but without adequate seating or food. About 12 hours after the plane was supposed to depart, frustrations boiled over, and that is when Ms. Arkwright and her husband, Johnnie, said they saw the man and his wife confront the attendant.

“These airlines treat people so badly,” Ms. Arkwright, who lives in Warwickshire, in central England, said in an interview on Monday. “You’re this little minnow fighting against this ruddy great shark.”

Ms. Arkwright wrote an open letter to easyJet’s chief executive, Carolyn McCall, in which she asked for answers about what happened.

“I request that you — not some lackey — write personally to every person on this flight with a full explanation,” she wrote. “I should hardly need to tell you that customers should be treated with respect, not disdain.”

She said that she hoped the episode would help improve customer service.

EasyJet apologized and said the gate agent was not an airline employee. “We are concerned to see this — it is not an easyJet staff member & they do not work for our ground handling agents,” the airline said on Twitter.

The airport said in a statement on Facebook that the police were investigating. “Whatever the circumstances, the airport management firmly condemns this incident and has immediately asked that this staff member to be suspended,” the airport said.

The easyJet flight took off from the Nice airport a few minutes before midnight and landed at 1 a.m. in London — more than 12 hours after its scheduled arrival.

Source: NYT > World

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