A California woman is facing federal assault charges after attacking another passenger on a Delta Airlines flight on December 23rd, as reported by CNN.
The incident took place on a flight from Tampa, Florida to Atlanta, Georgia. The woman in question, 51-year-old Patricia Cornwall, was leaving the lavatory to return to her seat when she found the aisle blocked by a beverage cart while the flight attendants were serving drinks to other passengers. Cornwall asked the attendants to move so she could pass, with one of the attendants telling her to instead find an open seat until they were finished serving.
The agitated Cornwall then turned her frustration to another passenger, an as-yet unidentified man who was eating a snack and drinking his beverage, yelling at him to put his mask back on. The man points out that he doesn’t need to have his mask on since he is eating, before adding “Sit down, Karen.” Cornwall then punched the man in the head and spat on him.
Delta Airlines called in the incident ahead of its landing in Atlanta, with officers from the Atlanta Police Department waiting at the gate to take Cornwall into custody. Cornwall’s attorney said that she had been in jail since December 23rd.
On Monday, Cornwall made her first appearance in a federal court in Atlanta. She currently faces a class-A misdemeanor charge of “assault by striking, beating, or wounding R.S.M. in the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States.” The charge carries a sentence of up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.
Federal Judge Christopher Bly set Cornwall’s bond at $200,000, and ultimately agreed to let her fly back home to Los Angeles if she follows a certain set of rules set by the court. Other than her flight home, Cornwall is forbidden from any other form of domestic interstate travel while out on bail. In addition, Delta Airlines has confirmed that Cornwall is banned from ever flying with the airline again.
“Situations like these are rare for the vast majority of our customers,” said Delta spokesperson Grant Myatt, “and Delta has zero tolerance for unruly behavior at our airports and aboard our aircraft.”