Woman charged with hitting flight attendant, making threats

Kyle Hopkins

A 56-year-old Hawaiian woman faces a federal assault charge after striking a flight attendant during a recent overnight Alaska Airlines flight from Honolulu to Anchorage, the charges say.

Kyong Cha Lee, of Aiea, is accused of hitting the flight attendant with both hands and making "profane" threats during the Aug. 19 flight, according to the grand jury indictment. A federal prosecutor declined to say what prompted the encounter or discuss other details of the case.

Alaska Airlines spokeswoman Marianne Lindsey would say only that a passenger on the fully loaded jet "became belligerent and disruptive" with the crew.

"We notified authorities, who met the flight in Anchorage upon landing," Lindsey wrote in an email. The FBI is investigating the case, she said.

An Anchorage grand jury handed up the indictment on Wednesday. Lee pleaded not guilty at a court appearance Friday in Anchorage, court records show.

Prosecutor Kyle French said the flight, Alaska Airlines flight No. 871, was not diverted as a result of the incident.

"It's charged as a misdemeanor ... but flight interference can be charged as felony," French said.

Prosecutors requested a Korean translator to aid in the court hearing. A spokesman for the Alaska Department of Corrections said Lee was arrested Friday and released the same day.

A public defender representing Lee in the case could not immediately be reached for comment.

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