An American Airlines flight from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., made an emergency landing in Kansas City, Missouri, on Sunday afternoon after a riotous passenger tried to storm the cockpit and then tried to open the exit door, witnesses said.
The passenger was subdued by crew members and other passengers. He was arrested after the plane landed.
American Airlines said in a statement that American Airlines Flight 1775 landed safely in Kansas City, where law enforcement officials met the plane. Said Charles A. Diop, the FBI special agent in charge in Kansas City, in a statment That the passenger was detained after “interfering with the cabin crew”.
The passenger was “ultimately subdued by our crew and the assistance of other passengers,” said Stacey Day, a spokeswoman for the airline.
Carlos Rojas, 33, was among the passengers who intervened. He said he was dozing while sitting in a row behind the first-class section when the lights on the plane suddenly turned on. He removed his headphones and noticed a struggle between the flight attendants and a passenger at the front of the plane. A nearby passenger enlisted Mr. Rojas, an Air Force reservist, to assist the flight attendants.
Mr. Rojas said that the man in the middle of the melee, who appeared to be middle-aged, looked dazed and dumbfounded. He added that earlier in the flight, others had seen the speed of passengers in the aisles.
“When I got on, it looked like the man was trying to open the outside door of the plane out,” said Mr. Rojas. “So we were kind of stopping him from doing that and just trying to put him down and make sure he was brought down and everyone was okay.”
Moaz Mustafa, a traveler from Washington, described a chaotic scene as a plane began descending into Kansas City without warning after an argument with the passenger.
He said the man tried to get into the cockpit and then tried to exit through the main door before several passengers grabbed him.
“The flight attendant ran to the back of the plane and got a coffee pot and kept hitting the man on the head,” Mr. Mustafa said in an interview while the plane was held on the runway. He added that the man was “bleeding profusely”.
“I honestly thought today I might die,” he said.
In the end, it required three flight attendants and three passengers, including Mr. Rojas, to handcuff the man, move him to the floor, and then tie his hands and ankles with duct tape and zip ties by the flight attendants, Mr. Rojas said. Mr Rojas said the passenger remained on the ground for 15 minutes until the plane landed and authorities picked him up.
As Mr. Mustafa, 37, was giving a phone interview from his seat, the pilot came and spoke to the passengers about how the man had tried and failed to open the cockpit door.
Flight disruptions It spiked during the coronavirus pandemic, and several incidents involved passengers who did not agree to mandates for masks.
Last year, the FAA conducted more than 1,000 investigations into riotous passengers — more than the previous seven years combined.
Karen Maria Alston, who lives in Washington, said she was sitting in the 17th grade on the plane watching “Dunes” when she saw some men rushing into the first-class section. She said she wasn’t able to see what was happening, but the commotion and the ensuing landing were frightening and “extremely exhausting.”
“I need a drink and I am so grateful,” Ms. Alston said in a text message after the plane landed in Kansas City.
She said passengers waited on board as FBI officers interviewed witnesses.
Then, passengers were asked to disembark, and they waited about three hours at the Kansas City airport, where they relaxed from their tense joint experience and celebrated the three interrupted passengers.
Mr. Rojas and the other passengers crowded around a small TV next to the bar, to relax and watch the Super Bowl, “just making better use of the situation,” he said.
Three hours later, they were back on the plane to Washington.