Viewers are divided after a viral TikTok showed a reportedly mentally ill woman being restrained with duct tape on an American Airlines flight after allegedly trying to exit the plane mid-air.
The video, which has garnered over 3 million views, was posted by @lol.ariee who said the incident came in the middle of a two-hour flight taking off from Dallas-Fort Worth.
“All of a sudden they start turning the lights on and we see flight attendants running up and down the aisles frantically whispering to each other, talking on the phone with somebody, just frantic,” @lol.ariee said. “We were kind of like ‘ok, now we’re alert, is everything ok? what’s going on?'”
The first video in the three-part series shows a woman duct taped to her seat, with other passengers exiting the plane after landing. Medics can be seen with a stretcher waiting for everyone to exit, presumably to treat the restrained woman.
While this was unfolding in the air, the poster said it wasn’t clear to passengers what was happening in the cabin:
“The flight attendants weren’t saying anything, they were just running to first class, kind of grabbing bags from the overhead, they randomly locked all the bathrooms. It was just kind of like chaos and no one knew what was going on. So the pilot goes over the intercom and he makes an announcement saying, ‘We ask that you guys please stay in your seats for the remainder of the flight unless it’s an extreme emergency. We understand there’s a bad situation on the plane right now, and we’re working on fixing it.'”
Commenters criticized the TikToker for saying that seeing the woman restrained with duct tape “didn’t sit right” with her. However, she explained a flight attendant informed some passengers that the woman might have been experiencing an episode related to “autism or schizophrenia.”
“Bro they literally did what they needed to for the safety of everyone on the plane,” @gwenythlb wrote. ” How does that ‘not sit right with you?'”
Another commenter claiming to be a flight attendant said the flight staff “did everything right.”
“As a flight attendant, they did EVERYTHING right,” @thatjerseygirll wrote. “That’s the most serious of security threats. Does no one remember 9/11?!?!”
Some sympathized with the restrained woman and @lol.ariee’s concerns, saying that duct taping a mentally ill person can cause harm and that there should be better ways to restrain or treat people having episodes.
“I think the point [@lol.ariee] was trying to make was not that restraining the [woman] was wrong but that the way was the problem,” @lyssbinch wrote. “We shouldn’t duct tape mentally ill people we should have better protocol in place for these things.”
One person suggested that airlines should have better crisis prevention training for mental health incidents.
Many others thought that the flight attendants did the best they could in a difficult situation with limited resources, commenting that the use of duct tape was a safer way of restraining a struggling person than zip ties or handcuffs.
In 2018, the airline made headlines when another passenger was similarly restrained with duct tape and zip ties after biting flight attendants.
The Daily Dot has reached out to American Airlines regarding the incident.
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