An American Airlines flight was diverted to Kansas City International Airport in Missouri on Sunday afternoon due to “an undisciplined passenger,” the airline said in a statement. “American Airlines Flight 1775 with service from Los Angeles (LAX) to Washington, D.C. (DCA) was diverted to Kansas City (MCI) due to an undisciplined passenger,” the statement reads, provided to CNN.
“The flight landed smoothly at MCI at 14:28 local time, and law enforcement was asked to meet the flight upon arrival,” it added. “We are grateful to our crew members, who are constantly dedicated to the safety and care of our customers and who handled the circumstances with the utmost skill and professionalism.” Kansas City Department of Aviation spokesman Joe McBride told CNN there was a “passenger who interfered with the flight crew,” adding that the incident will fall under the jurisdiction of the FBI.
The FBI confirmed the incident in a statement to CNN, adding that the individual in question had been taken into custody. “The flight was diverted due to an unruly passenger interfering with the flight crew,” the FBI statement said. “The individual has been taken into custody. No further information is available at this time.” The Federal Aviation Administration also confirmed to CNN that the flight crew reported a disturbance of passengers aboard the Airbus A321.
Mouaz Moustafa, a resident of Washington, D.C., was on board the flight and told CNN he saw one flight attendant yell at another to turn on the lights. The plane began to descend rapidly, Moustafa said. More people climbed to the front of the plane to help hold the passenger, Moustafa said. Moustafa also reported to CNN that the passenger was trying to enter the cabin and open the door of the plane, and that a flight attendant used a coffee maker to hit the man in the head.
When the flight landed, police and the FBI came on board, Moustafa said. The passengers were relocated to another flight. According to FAA data, 2021 was a bad year for undisciplined passenger behavior in the United States, with 5,981 reports of undisciplined passengers recorded by the agency as of Dec. 31. Of these, 4,290 (almost 72%) were mask-related incidents.
On Sunday, an American Airlines flight to Washington D.C. had to make an emergency landing after a passenger tried to force his way into the plane’s cockpit and then tried to open one of the emergency exits in mid-flight. The altercation, which took place Sunday during a flight from Los Angeles, caused the pilot to make an emergency landing at the Kansas City airport.
As Mouaz Moustafa, one of the passengers on board the plane told the New York Times, a middle-aged man had tried to enter the cockpit during the flight. Not being able to access its interior (it must be remembered that now the cabins of the planes are armored and close from within) the passenger tried to open one of the doors of the plane.
“One of the flight attendants ran to the back of the plane, picked up the coffee pot, and started hitting the guy on the head,” Moustafa explained. “Honestly, I thought I might die.” Fortunately, among the crew members and several passengers, they were able to stop the man and handcuff him until the plane managed to land. The FBI interviewed the passengers upon arrival and is currently conducting an official investigation into the incident.