Video shows mask fight between passengers on Delta flight; woman detained at Atlanta airport

A woman accused of unruly behavior aboard a Delta Air Lines flight was detained in Atlanta last week, police said. Video appears to show a woman slapping a man across the face after a dispute over masks.

The incident occurred Thursday on Flight 2790 from Tampa, Florida, to Atlanta, Atlanta police said in a statement.

Police said that once the flight landed at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, passengers told them that the woman, Patricia Cornwall, had caused the disturbance in the air.

“This disturbance led to the injury of fellow passengers and Delta employees. Based on the statements gathered and visible evidence, officers detained Ms. Cornwall and contacted the on-call FBI agent. … FBI agents responded and took custody of Ms. Cornwall,” police said.

Delta said in a statement Monday: “Flight 2790 from Tampa to Atlanta was met by law enforcement after an unruly customer disturbance during flight. 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.”

Atlanta police deferred questions Monday to the FBI.

An FBI spokesperson said Cornwall was expected to appear Monday afternoon in federal court in Atlanta. The spokesperson directed additional questions to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. No one with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia immediately responded to a request for comment Monday.

It was unclear whether Cornwall has an attorney. She could not be reached for comment.

Video posted to Instagram shows a woman, whose mask is around her neck and below her chin, speaking to a man sitting in his seat. The video does not show the beginning of the confrontation, and it is not clear what happened immediately before the recording. The two curse at each other throughout the nearly two-minute video.

The woman repeatedly tells the man to put his mask on. At one point, the man responds: “You’re a … Karen. Sit down.” “Karen” is slang typically referring to an entitled white woman. He also points out that the woman’s mask is down before he calls her a vulgarity.

After the woman asks the man whether he called her the profanity, the video appears to show her slapping him in the face.

The man responds: “Now you’re going to jail. That’s assault. You’re going to jail as soon as we get to Atlanta.”

The video also shows the man claiming the woman spit on him. The woman is escorted away from the man by multiple people.

The Federal Aviation Administration last month reported that 10 passengers were hit with fines totaling $225,287 because of allegations of unruly behavior on flights. In those cases, according to the FAA, passengers shoved flight attendants, used expletives, threw fits and refused to comply with the FAA requirement for masks.

As of last month, the FAA had documented 5,114 reports of unruly passengers and 3,710 reports of refusing to wear masks this year. It said 239 cases led to penalties.

To curb what it has described as a dramatic increase in unruly or dangerous behavior aboard passenger airplanes, the FAA released a public service announcement in August with a simple message: “Unruly behavior doesn’t fly.”

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