Southwest Airlines pilot is facing charges after ‘fight with flight attendant’

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A Southwest Airlines pilot is facing possible criminal charges after allegedly getting into a physical fight with a flight attendant at a California hotel.

Pilot Nick Barelli was cited for assault and battery and placed on leave by the airline after the altercation with the unnamed flight attendant, which took place on October 18 in San Jose and was reportedly about face masks.

‘The event involved a disagreement over mask-wearing or masks on October 18, 2021, at a local hotel bar,’ Sergeant Christian Camarillo of the San Jose Police Department detailed to DailyMail.com.   

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Southwest Airlines pilot Nick Barelli was cited for assault and battery and placed on leave by the airline after an altercation between him and an unnamed flight attendant on October 18

Southwest Airlines pilot Nick Barelli was cited for assault and battery and placed on leave by the airline after an altercation between him and an unnamed flight attendant on October 18

‘Mr. Barelli was cited for assault and battery,’ Camarillo continued, adding that the pilot is currently being investigated for assault and battery by the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office, and that charges against him have yet to be filed. 

The San Jose sergeant went on to add that whether or not the case moves forward depends on the flight attendant. 

‘In cases like this is, it is up to the victim to follow through and cooperate with the investigation for any possible charges to be filed,’ Camarillo stated.

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The department would not release the name of the attendant, but made it clear that Barelli was the aggressor in the incident. 

Meanwhile, the district attorney’s office is still reviewing the case, spokesperson Sean Webby told DailyMail.com.

Southwest placed the pilot on leave while the matter is investigated, Southwest Airlines media spokesperson Brad Hawkins told DailyMail.com on Tuesday.

Hawkins went on to confirm that the airline had a ‘disagreement between crew members during an overnight trip,’ and that an investigation was already underway – but revealed that a disciplinary ruling from the airline would depend on whether or not charges are filed against Barelli, and whether the pilot is found guilty of a crime.

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'The event involved a disagreement over mask-wearing or masks on October 18, 2021, at a local hotel bar,' San Jose Police Department Sgt. Christian Camarillo told DailyMail.com

‘The event involved a disagreement over mask-wearing or masks on October 18, 2021, at a local hotel bar,’ San Jose Police Department Sgt. Christian Camarillo told DailyMail.com

‘Our internal investigation, now ongoing, would regard the outcome of charges filed with local authorities,’ Hawkins revealed. 

Hawkins confirmed that Barelli is currently on leave, as the airline’s internal investigation regarding the San Jose incident continues to unfold. 

What is known, though, is that the altercation between Barelli and the unnamed flight attendant occurred on October 18, a Monday night, while the Southwest crew were staying at an unnamed hotel in San Jose during an overnight layover.

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Moreover, Barelli and the flight attendant were part of the same crew, and had worked together on flights earlier that day. 

That Friday, though, on October 22, Southwest sent a stern, company-wide memo to pilots and flight attendants concerning proper workplace conduct.

The bulletin then warned staffers 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.’

‘We realize there has been a steady drumbeat over the last 19 months about civility and respectful discourse – and that is for good reason. 

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Masks are mandatory for all Southwest employees - a sentiment that was reiterated by the airline in a company-wide memo sent to staff days after the incident between Barelli and another staffer

Masks are mandatory for all Southwest employees – a sentiment that was reiterated by the airline in a company-wide memo sent to staff days after the incident between Barelli and another staffer

‘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 internal communication, began. 

‘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.’

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The memo further recommends that flight crews have an employee meeting before a plane embarks to ‘set the right tone’ for what is expected out of Southwest employees. 

It also reminds staffers that masks are required for all employees.  

The memo was signed by Southwest Vice President of Flight Operations Bob Waltz and Vice President of Inflight Operations Sonya Lacore, who manages Southwest pilots and oversees flight attendant management, respectively.

The Southwest flight attendants union, TWU Local 556, released a statement regarding the incident, on Tuesday, throwing their support behind the victim. 

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‘We are aware of this matter and the fact that the investigation continues,’ the bulletin begins. 

‘As with all flight attendants we represent, we will support our member in accordance with the law and our collective bargaining agreement.’

The Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, which represents the airline’s pilots, declined to comment on the incident, citing the ongoing investigation.

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