After being denied permission to board a connecting American Airlines flight in Phoenix on Wednesday, Los Angeles local Yolanda Yarbrough allegedly struck a gate agent in the face — and was later arrested by Phoenix police on “suspicion of assault.”
It’s common, even science-backed knowledge these days that face coverings help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Perhaps the new litmus test, too, for how deep someone’s wells of empathy go is their ability to comply with social-distancing and mask-wearing norms — especially when they’re about to board a commercial airplane. Alas, one Angeleno recently failed said trial in a particularly bombastic fashion.
To ensure everyone’s well-being and that you are traveling in the safest way possible, face coverings are required on board. pic.twitter.com/8Aex1yf4ao— americanair (@AmericanAir) June 12, 2020
As reported by The Arizona Republic and ABC7, 47-year-old Yolanda Yarbrough of Los Angeles was a passenger on Wednesday’s American Airlines flight 2027 from LAX to Phoenix, where she was scheduled to connect on another flight to Las Vegas. Though, after the forty-something refused to wear a face covering on the first flight, crew members flagged her travel itinerary and prompted Yarbrough be denied service if she continued to not comply with American's policy on mask-wearing.
When it came time to make her connecting flight at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, Yarbrough refused and, instead allegedly decided to hit the gate agent making this demand on the head and over the face — all while spewing a harangue of profanities.
Per both news outlets, Yarbrough was later arrested at the airport by Phoenix police on “suspicion of assault.”
"After arriving into Phoenix and being informed that they would not be able to take their connecting flight to Las Vegas, the individual became irate and struck an American team member in the terminal," said Curtis Blessing, a spokesperson for American Airlines, to The Arizona Republic.
"Law enforcement was requested and since this is now a law enforcement matter, we would refer additional questions to the Phoenix Police Department,” Blessing continued, noting that the employee was not injured in the swift brawl near Gate A11.
The Phoenix Police Department (PPD) responded to Terminal 4 on a “report of an assault” — which later led to Yarbrough being arrested and booked at a local county jail on “suspicion of assault,” according to PPD.
"Officers contacted the victim who informed officers that the suspect had struck him with her hand on his face," Sergeant Mercedes Fortune, a PPD spokesperson, added in a statement emailed to the Nevada newspaper.
It’s unclear as to whether or not Yarbrough has been released from jailv, but, nevertheless, American Airlines says she’s banned from flying on the airline "pending further investigation," and is on its “refuse [service] list.”
The Centers for Disease Control still advocates that staying home is the “best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19,” and that proper social distancing is difficult to uphold on crowded flights — making it all the more necessary to don some sort of face covering aboard an airplane.