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Man punched by unruly airline passenger at JAX speaks out

This morning we are hearing from a man who says he was attacked on a flight at JAX Airport.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The man who got punched several times by an unruly airline passenger Friday night is now telling his story.

The unruly passenger, Michael Bairos Costa, has been charged with making threats, disorderly intoxication, battery on a law enforcement officer, and resisting arrest without violence.

The FBI is investigating the incident since it occurred when the plane doors were closed. The man who was punched, Eric Conroy, said he and his wife were traveling to celebrate their wedding anniversary.

A source told News4Jax the altercation started when Michael Costa and his wife were told their child was too old to sit in someone’s lap and needed his or her own ticket to fly.

Investigators said Costa’s wife was escorted back to the front desk to buy another ticket for her child. That’s when the man in the video-- now identified as Michael Costa began acting out.

The Conroys, who are frequent flyers, said they never experienced or saw anything like what happened.

“He was really agitated about what happened and was yelling at everybody on the plane and was banging on the captain’s door wanting to get out. They passed him the phone to talk to a captain. So, we sat there for another 10-15 minutes, and I said, ‘Is there any way we can hurry this up?’ He looked in the back and everybody had their mask on, so he walked to the back and said, ‘Who said that?’ and I raised my hand and said, ‘I did. We’re on our anniversary trip and would like to get things moving,’” Eric Conroy said.

Conroy said that’s when Costa started swinging.

A police report shows an off-duty officer quickly broke up the fight and identified herself to Costa as a police officer. The report says Costa slapped the officer’s hand, tried to pull away, spat in another officer’s face, and made threats towards that officer. It didn’t take long after that though to get Costa into handcuffs and removed from the plane.

Thankfully everybody else on the plane was alright, nobody else got hurt. Unfortunately for that guy, he made the wrong decision that day, and I already said a prayer to the man upstairs, ‘I hope he gets better and I hope things get better for him,’ but that was pretty uncalled for what he did,” Conroy said.

About the Author:

Ashley Harding joined the Channel 4 news team in March 2013 and reports every weekday for The Morning Show.