Passengers Who Got Into a Fistfight on Southwest Flight Now Face Fines of Up to $37,000

by Anthony Losanno
Southwest Fight

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Earlier this week, two passengers got into an all-out brawl onboard Southwest flight WN1288 between Oakland International Airport (OAK) and Lihue Airport (LIH). The flight managed to make it to Kauai without diversion, but now the two men involved in the fistfight are facing criminal charges and fines of up to $37,000.

The video above shows the two men exchanging blows while other passengers try to diffuse the situation. The man who throws most of the punches in the video alleges that the other man was drunk and harassing his wife. They were separated after the fight and the flight continued without further incident. Authorities met the passengers upon arrival and detained both of them.

The US Department of Transportation (USDOT) issued a warning on X around bad behavior in flight. A further investigation is being conducted. Southwest Airlines issued the following statement:

Our reports indicate that two Customers became disruptive onboard flight 1288 on Feb. 12 from Oakland to Lihue. We commend our Crew and Customers for their professionalism in defusing this situation. Our number one priority is the Safety and well-being of our Customers and Employees. The flight landed safely at its scheduled destination and local authorities met the aircraft upon arrival.”

Anthony’s Take: How hard is it to sit down and act civilized? While incidents have dropped in number since 2021, there are still fights and passengers behaving badly each week onboard flights around the world. I will always wonder what makes people act so awful on planes.

(Featured Image Credit: Hawaii News Now via Instagram.)

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Christian February 18, 2024 - 12:41 pm

In theory, acting civilized is easy; in practice that’s not always the case. I was on an AirAsia flight a couple of weeks ago with my wife and another couple we were traveling with. The other couple had window and center seats with my wife next to them and me on the opposite aisle. Late in the boarding a guy indicated that he was supposed to be in the empty middle seat but wanted me to sit there so he could have my aisle seat. I didn’t hear it but my wife chuckled at that and I politely said that I was comfortable with the seat near my wife so the resting b-face took his assigned seat. I’m 6’4 with around 22” shoulders and unfortunately currently weigh over 300 pounds. What I couldn’t understand was how I was leaning into the aisle enough that it actually hurt but RBF guy was still quite pressed up against me. After the flight my wife explained that he was intentionally doing that to be a miserable person. Had I realized that at the time I might have escalated the situation since you don’t treat people that way. Who knows how things would have gone from there.

lars February 18, 2024 - 1:46 pm

I’ll reserve my response for when we see the actual penalty handed down.

Talking about the maximum penalty one could hypothetically face for any given infraction used to be a good deterrent in this country. Nowadays, people have figured out unless you have a mile long rap sheet or kill somebody intentionally, you’ll never sniff the upper end of the penalty range. And all this is assuming you get formally rung up in the first place. Lots of fights on planes result in no arrest at all. All that to say, if they want us to fear severe punishment, they’ll have to start consistently doling it out.

Marci February 19, 2024 - 7:43 pm

“…between Oakland International Airport (OAK) and Kona’s Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport (KOA).”

(“…onboard flight 1288 on Feb. 12 from Oakland to Lihue.)

Bit of a discrepency there…


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