Last month an American Airlines first class passenger was duct taped and gagged after trying to flee the aircraft midflight. Then a Frontier passenger was duct taped after improperly touching flight attendants on board. To complete the trifecta, last week a 13 year old boy was duct taped to hit seat on an American flight from Honolulu to Los Angeles.
Inflight passenger incidents have been at record levels, largely over masks (although these duct tape incidents haven’t been mask-related). United Airlines, which claims its de-escalation procedures have led to a 50% reduction in passenger incidents, has sent a memo to flight attendants reminding them that they are never to duct tape passengers to their seats.
United again explains its de-escalation process and reminds flight attendants that “alternative measures such as tape” should “never” be used because there are already “designated items” onboard to deal with “difficult situations.”
United may be more geared towards emphasizing de-escalation than physical restraint following a review of its procedures after David Dao was dragged off of a United Express flight and bloodied by Chicago Aviation Police after refusing to voluntarily deplane to make room to transport crew after he’d already boarded his flight back in April 2017.
Along some margin, then, it may be safer to fly United – or at least expect to be twist-tied into your seat rather than duct taped.