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Spirit Airlines employee hospitalized after assault at Detroit airport

Spirit Airlines Is Upgrading New Planes With Roomier, More Comfortable Seats
Posted at 5:37 AM, Jan 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-19 05:37:10-05

ROMULUS, Mich. — Two people were arrested and a Spirit Airlines employee was hospitalized after being attacked outside gate D15 of a Spirit Airlines flight Sunday night at Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

A passenger was seen on video barreling over the employee. Passenger Kalia Lewis recorded the video and posted it on her Instagram page.

“Being right there it was crazy," Lewis said. "You always see videos about crazy stuff happening but I've never seen it myself.”

She was boarding the flight going home to Atlanta when she heard the argument begin.

"I can't believe this is happening in the airport," Lewis said.

However, Spirit employees at DTW can believe it. They say arguments often happen while trying to enforce Spirit's pricing for carry-on bags. They were granted anonymity for fear of being fired.

"It's not like this is something that’s new," said one employee. "We have to come to work with the mindset that we have to be prepared that we might be in an altercation with guests.”

Spirit Airlines said in a statement that another employee was also injured. “The agents asked the group to verify that their carry-on bags were sized appropriately for the aircraft prior to boarding, at which time the passengers became combative. The agents attempted to calmly defuse the situation but were physically assaulted by these passengers as they closed a door to stop them from boarding the aircraft.”

“I couldn't believe it had escalated that far," Lewis said, "them slamming the door and shutting the boarding door and all that. I'm like, 'OK, that’s one thing.' But then it was just like, a rush in front of you, it just happened.”

Airport police say two people were arrested, and another person was cited and released. Lewis says it took a while for police or security to show up.

Spirit employees feel more needs to be done. "We feel that we are not protected that well at the airport," the employee said. "We also feel that our safety is not a priority most of the time at the workplace.”

"If I was the employee, I would want to be compensated, because there’s no way I should be under this much of a threat,” Lewis said.

In the statement, Spirit also said, "This violent behavior is completely unacceptable and has absolutely no place in airports or any other place of business. We will not tolerate abusive behavior of any kind and these passengers will be banned from any future travel with Spirit. Further questions about this incident should be referred to law enforcement."