Video captured by passenger Barrie Livingstone shows the attacker rush at the flight attendant and strike him from behind.
Livingstone said the agitated passenger attacked the attendant after being told he could not use the lavatory up front because he wasn’t a first-class passenger on the American Airlines flight.
“Once he started screaming at him, the flight attendant just turned around and I think he was going to go and do something,” Livingstone said. “But as he turned around and walked away, the guy jumped out of his seat, bolted down the (aisle), and punched him in the back. It was totally unprovoked.”
Four other passengers then got up and helped restrain the attacker using zip ties on both his hands and feet.
Livingstone added that the restrained attacker continued to “lash out” every 10 minutes or so,
“screaming and shouting about being the messiah and feeling misunderstood.”
Once the plane was safely on the ground, LAX police and FBI agents took the passenger into custody.
“Acts of violence against our team members are not tolerated by American Airlines,” the airline said in a statement. “The individual involved in this incident will never be allowed to travel with us in the future, and we will work closely with law enforcement in their investigation.
“We thank our crew for their quick action and professionalism to ensure the safety of their fellow team members and customers on board.”
Livingstone, too, credits the passengers and crew who intervened with preventing the incident from becoming “much worse.”
A spokesperson for the FBI said the passenger, whose name was not released, was taken into custody on suspicion of interference with a flight crew.
Los Angeles has seen several incidents involving unruly passengers over the past several years. In February, a flight from LAX to Washington was diverted to Kansas City after a passenger tried to open a door. Another flight from Washington, D.C. to LAX was diverted to Oklahoma City in December after a passenger tried to fight an attendant and a Federal Air Marshal.