The FBI arrested a Tennessee woman this week who is accused of drunkenly groping two fellow passengers and attacking flight attendants on a Spirit Airlines flight in November.
Amanda Renee Henry, 43, faces a charge of interfering with flight crew. She appeared in court by video conference Tuesday and was released.
Mark H. Wildasin, the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee, said the prosecution was in line with a November directive from the attorney general to prioritize crimes that happen aboard aircraft.
“Those whose behavior disrupts or otherwise endangers the safety of persons on aircrafts should expect to face federal charges,” Wildasin said in a statement.
Neither Henry nor the lawyer appointed to represent her immediately responded to a request for comment Wednesday.
Henry was traveling from Fort Lauderdale to Nashville on Nov. 27, according to the complaint against her. Flight attendants decided Henry was drunk and possibly under the influence of another drug and cut her off from alcohol service, according to the complaint.
She was sitting in an exit row with two brothers, and put her hands on one of the men and “made lewd sexual advances towards him on several occasions,” according to the complaint. When the men switched seats, she allegedly put her hands on the other man and laid her head on his shoulder.
The men asked to be moved, then flight attendants decided to move Henry out of the exit row, according to the complaint. At that point, she allegedly rushed to the front of the plane with her carry-on bag, screaming that she was going to exit.
She is accused of attacking flight attendants who tried to restrain her, punching, kicking and pulling one by a pony tail. She eventually was restrained and a passenger helped to keep her calm for the rest of the flight, according to the complaint.
Flight attendants have faced a surge in bad behavior by passengers, driven in large part by disputes over a mask mandate for air travelers. The Federal Aviation Administration, which has powers to investigate and levy fines, has received 5,779 reports of unruly behavior this year and launched 325 enforcement cases.
More serious cases have been referred to federal prosecutors for criminal charges.