U. S. News
Female passenger allegedly tried to open the emergency exit of a plane midflight forcing pilot to make emergency landing
A growing number of incidents have been reported since the start of the pandemic at airports and on flights. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had enforced pandemic measures at airports and during flights, but thousands of people refused to comply with the existing rules, putting millions of travelers at risk of getting infected with the deadly virus.
According to the data provided by the FAA, a total of 10,271 incidents were reported last year, which is 42% more than the year before. 5,981 of these incidents are “Unruly Passenger Reports”, while 4,290 are “Mask-related Incidents.” The FAA initiated 1,113 investigations, and the agency proposed a total of $5 million in fines against unruly passengers.
Although this year the industry recorded a significant growth in passengers, the number of incidents reported so far is much lower compared to last year. The FAA has received 2,178 reports of unruly passenger behavior so far this year, prompting more than 760 investigations.
On Saturday, one such incident occurred on a Southwest Airlines flight bound from Houston, Texas, to Columbus, Ohio, forcing the pilot to make an emergency landing in Little Rock, Arkansas. According to the local authorities, one passenger was taken into federal custody, while another was transferred to a local hospital for treatment.
At around 3:30 p.m. local time, Southwest Flight 192 touched down at Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport. In a statement sent to CBS News, the Federal Aviation Administration confirmed that the pilot decided to make an emergency stop in Arkansas after “the crew declared an emergency due to a passenger disturbance.” FAA officials didn’t provide more details of what had happened mid-flight but described the incident as “unruly behavior from a passenger.”
Local authorities, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officials, and FBI officials were all at the airport when the plane landed and took one person into federal custody. Another individual, who was involved and injured in the incident, was transported to a local hospital for treatment. No word was given about the type and extent of the injuries sustained in the incident. We tried to get in touch with the local authorities, but as of the writing of the report, the nature of the disturbance had not been released by officials.
According to a report by KARK, after getting in touch with one of the passengers on the Southwest Airlines flight 192, they heard shouting from the back of the plane about half an hour after departing from Texas. That was the moment when several people confronted a female passenger who was allegedly trying to open the emergency exit at the back of the plane. Several people were holding the woman down and restraining her with what appeared to be a big zip tie.
In separate statements, the LRPD, the FBI Little Rock office, and Southwest Airlines confirmed that the crew followed a protocol and the flight was diverted to Little Rock. Once the “unruly” passenger was taken into custody, the airplane departed to its original destination.
The suspect’s identity and charges were not immediately released, but the suspect will likely face federal charges. The investigation is being led by the FBI, which is the only federal agency with the power to look into possible assault aboard aircraft violations.
This is a developing story. Stay with us for updates when they become available.