A woman recently went viral on Twitter after sharing a video of the person behind her punching her seat after she reclined it.
Wendi Williams said that she took an American Airlines flight on Jan. 31 from New Orleans to Charlotte, N.C., and reclined her seat for the first time at some point during the flight. Williams said the man behind her asked if he could finish eating before she put her seat back, which she kindly obliged. After she was sure he was done eating, however, Williams said that she reclined and the man started repeatedly punching the back of her seat.
@BravoAndy Here’s a great jackhole! He was angry that I reclined my seat and punched it about 9 times - HARD, at which point I began videoing him, and he resigned to this behavior. The other jackhole is the @AmericanAir flight attendant who reprimanded me and offered him rum! pic.twitter.com/dHeUysrKTu
— wendi (@steelersfanOG) February 9, 2020
Williams said she called a flight attendant to handle the situation. In the following tweet, Williams said the attendant "rolled her eyes" at Williams and then told the man seating was tight and offered to give him a free mini bottle of rum.
Things escalated even further when the attendant told Williams it was illegal to film on a plane so Williams would have to delete the video she took of the man punching her seat — there is no federal law against in-flight photography or filmingunless it directly prevents the flight staff from doing their jobs.
When Williams refused, the attendant gave her a "Passenger Disturbance Notice."
When the FA came. She rolled her eyes at me and said, “What?” She then told him it was tight back there and gave him rum! She told me I had to delete the video! It’s against the law to video on a plane. I asked her name & She gave me a Passenger Disturbance Notice! https://t.co/zRwy5JYr9s
— wendi (@steelersfanOG) February 8, 2020
Williams said she reached out to American Airlines customer service to report the incident, but they "didn't really accept any responsibility."
I was contacted via phone by @AmericanAir, they apologized but really didn’t accept any responsibility for the flight attendant’s actions. I will be calling the FBI to press charges against the “man” who mistook me for a punching bag. Anyone who doesn’t like it, I don’t care!
— wendi (@steelersfanOG) February 9, 2020
Since Williams tweeted the video on Feb. 8, the incident has divided the internet over who was in the wrong.
There's a reason multiple airlines have removed reclining seats. It's rude.. but the real issue here is you feeling entitled to something you don't deserve. You reclined into his space then cry about it when he asked you not to. The assault took place when you laid in his lap.
— Jay0eee (@jay0eee) February 13, 2020
AGREE. He has real issues. I am glad you didn't engage with him. It would have put you and others who may have come to your aid at risk.
The airlines should have moved him elsewhere and had a cop waiting for him when he got off the plane.
You deserve to be safe at 30,000 feet.
— Karen Myatt (@karenamyatt) February 9, 2020
Delta CEO Ed Bastian even weighed in on the issue, says Fox News. In an appearance on CNBC on Feb. 14, Bastian said the proper airplane etiquette is to ask passengers' permission to recline your seat back.
“I think customers have the right to recline ... [but] I think the proper thing to do if you're going to recline into somebody is that you ask if it's OK first," Bastian said.
Now the issue has escalated even farther, with Williams telling TMZ on Feb. 14 that she wants to press charges against the man punching her seat.
TMZ reports that Williams was concerned given her medical history and previous back surgeries that the "repeated whiplash" from the man punching her seat might have caused damage to her already-fragile vertebrae. Williams said she wanted to get an MRI to be sure nothing is wrong, but it's too expensive, so she's calling on American Airlines to cover her medical bills.
Williams also wants the man behind her to be identified so she can press charges. As for the flight attendant who handed the passenger a drink and then told Williams to delete the video, Williams demands the company take action and fire her.