Southwest pilot cited after allegedly fighting with flight attendant over masks at hotel

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A Southwest Airlines pilot is facing assault and battery charges following an alleged altercation after a mask dispute with a flight attendant at a California hotel last month.

The alleged attack happened Oct. 18 at a bar in San Jose, where pilots and flight attendants were spending the night after a flight, USA Today reported. 

There was “a disagreement over mask-wearing or masks” and the pilot was cited for assault and battery, said San Jose police Sgt. Christian Camarillo. The case was being referred to the San Clara County District Attorney’s Office for review and possible charges, Camarillo added.

Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-700 aircraft seen at Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport on Feb. 25, 2020. (Photo by Alex Tai/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

The pilot was placed on leave during an investigation, airline spokesperson Brandy King told the paper. No further details were provided. 

“We do not have information to provide regarding the context of the event, and we do not discuss personnel issues externally,” King said.

Just days after the alleged incident, Southwest sent a memo to pilots and flight attendants warning that: “Crossing the line in a heated conversation can be a violation of our guidelines for employees and can even end in loss of job,” according to the USA Today. 

“We realize there has been a steady drumbeat over the last 19 months about civility and respectful discourse – and that is for good reason. Many of our people have been faced with an uncomfortable situation where their beliefs are not shared by someone else, resulting in a confrontation of some kind,” the memo read, in part. “And for every situation we hear about, there are dozens more for which we don’t. It is vital that we treat everyone with respect and honor our differences without pushing our ideals on someone else.”

Southwest Airlines did not immediately respond to a late-night request for comment from Fox News.

The incident comes as the company has been at the center of political controversy in recent weeks. 

On Sunday, Southwest Airlines said it has opened an internal investigation into the pilot accused of saying “Let’s go Brandon” at the conclusion of an intercom announcement to passengers during a flight last Friday. 

And last month, hundreds of Southwest flights were canceled, which the airline blamed on bad weather and air traffic control issues. The disruptions began shortly after the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, representing 9,000 pilots, asked a federal court to block the airline’s order that all employees get vaccinated.

The issues were “not a result of Employee demonstrations, as some have reported,” the airline said. 

San Jose is about 50 miles southeast of downtown San Francisco. 

The Associated Press and Fox Business’s Daniella Genovese contributed to this report

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