Delta flight attendant allegedly assaulted by 'homophobic' first-class passenger

Christopher Alexander Morgan is accused of throwing ice, hurling homophobic insults and hitting an attendant with a cabin phone during a recent flight from Atlanta to Phoenix.

Photo of Dan Carson

A first-class passenger aboard a Friday Delta Air Lines flight from Atlanta to Phoenix was arrested following a series of allegedly escalating homophobic remarks that a criminal complaint states ended in a physical assault on an airline attendant in mid-flight.

According to NBC News' Minyvonne Burke and Kurt Chirbas, Christopher Alexander Morgan failed to comply with basic airline instructions before the plane left the ground at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, refusing to buckle his seatbelt or raise his seatback to its upright position in the first-class cabin. 

A criminal complaint states that a flight attendant was eventually compelled to manually adjust Morgan's seat for him so the plane could depart. Trouble between Morgan and the flight's staff continued to mount in the air, according to the complaint, which alleges Morgan threw his ice at a flight attendant after being refused a second alcoholic drink. The passenger then allegedly called a attendant a "queer" as well as another homophobic slur, at which time a second attendant accessed the cabin phone to alert the pilot of the developing situation.

According to the complaint obtained by Burke and Chirbas, it was at this point Morgan stood up from his seat and confronted the attendant on the phone, grabbing the receiver and hitting the employee in the chest with the object.

"Morgan said that he is homophobic and that it is possible he could have been intimidating the flight attendants," the complaint states. "[Morgan] said that his homophobia may have caused his temper towards the flight attendant to escalate."

Law enforcement was waiting at Phoenix Sky Harbor International when the plane touched down, and the criminal complaint states that after his arrest Morgan told FBI investigators "the flight was homosexual and that this made him uncomfortable."

Delta released a statement Wednesday condemning the incident.

"Delta has zero tolerance for unruly behavior and discrimination at our airports and aboard our aircraft and takes all reports of such behavior seriously, especially when directed at our employees," a Delta spokesperson stated. "Nothing is more important than the safety of our people and our customers."

Unruly passenger incidents aboard U.S. airlines skyrocketed following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the majority rooted in pushback from flyers against attendants attempting to enforce the recently curtailed federal mask mandate.

Major U.S. air carriers in March 2020 decided to suspend the sale of alcohol on flights temporarily in response to a profusion of passenger attacks on flight attendants. American Airlines was the last to renew the practice, returning wine, liquor and beer to beverage carts in March.

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