The victim was due to travel on EasyJet flight 2122 from Nice to Luton airport outside London on Saturday. The flight had already been delayed for 13 hours when the man holding his baby, and his wife, vented frustration to airport staff about the lack of baby food. The man had been punched after families had been waiting for the flight without access to information or place to sit down, reported The Guardian.
“The man with the baby… went over and talked to the Frenchman and the Frenchman didn’t reply, he just smiled and smirked and then whacked this guy on the left side of his face,” she told BBC Radio 5 Live.
The news made headlines when eye witness Arabella Arkwright, 49, photographed the altercation and put it on social media for the world to see. “It was awful, the whole thing. I just can’t believe people can behave like that,” said Arkwright.
— Arabella Ark (@ArabellaArkwri1) July 29, 2017
She also told CNN that it was her husband who restrained the attacker while they waited for the police to arrive. The man was taken away, with the child in his arms, but was later let back on the flight in time for its takeoff. She also claimed that he had a mark from the punch on his face.
“Everyone was having the most appalling day and then, all of a sudden, a man holding a baby gets whacked,” Arkwright told the Daily Mail. “It all kicked off after his [the father’s] wife was talking to the man [suspected attacker] because we were getting no information whatsoever about the delay.”
She said the alleged attacker “showed no interest or concern” and smiled at the family before he punched the man, giving him a black eye. “Then out of nowhere, he just whacked him. My husband, who’s 64, had to pull the man off him and hold him against a glass door. Everyone was appalled,” she stated.
“We had a serious problem with someone of staff from our subcontractor Samsic,” Jean-Francois Guitard, a director at Nice Airport told CNN. He said the passenger had complained about the EasyJet delay to a Samsic employee. Unable to answer the passenger’s questions, the employee suddenly lashed out with a punch.
Guitard said that the airport had been in contact with Samsic, which told them the employee had been suspended. “Clearly it is a misconduct situation. We apologise strongly about this situation regarding this passenger. There is no reason for a staff member to fight a passenger,” Guitard said.
We are concerned to see this – it is not an easyJet staff member & they do not work for our ground handling agents. 1/2
— easyJet Press Office (@easyJet_press) July 30, 2017
EasyJet replied and stated that the worker was not a part of the EasyJet staff, but instead worked for French special assistance provider Samsic which had been contracted by the Nice airport.
“It was utter chaos at the terminal. There were bags all over the place, everyone was frustrated and we had no idea what was going on,” she said. “Children were crying, they were exhausted, people were having to stand up for hours. I asked to speak to someone but they said no one was available.”