An American Airlines flight from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C. was rerouted to Kansas City, Missouri, after an unruly passenger attempted to open the cockpit and cabin door while the plane was in mid-flight on Sunday afternoon.
One passenger, Mouaz Moustafa, who recounted the situation on his personal Twitter explained the incident was a “near disaster” but that passengers and flight attendants successfully subdued the unruly individual.
A flight attendant intervened and was able to stop the passenger using a coffee pot before the FBI boarded and removed the passenger.
“The FBI have boarded flight #AA1775 and are going through the scene after a flight attendant used a coffee pot to strike a middle aged man multiple times who was attempting to open the plane door,” Moustafa tweeted.
As of February 8, the Federal Aviation Administration has received 394 reports of unruly passengers, 255 of which were related to facemasks. In 2021, the FAA received nearly 6,000 complaints and initiated more than 1,100 investigations.
Moustafa told Newsweek that before the passenger attempted to open the cabin door he was exhibiting strange behavior such as pacing the aisle and “making random comments.”
“The experience was terrifying,” he said. “At the beginning we didn’t know what happened because the flight attendants were panicking and the pilot started descending to a low altitude very quickly we thought the pilot may have passed out or something happened to him.”
Moustafa said that many passengers “feared the worst” and thought the plane was “free falling” because they were unaware of the emergency landing.
Quickly the passengers realized there was a passenger attempting to open the cabin and cockpit door. He said the situation was “terrifying” but several passengers were quickly able to hold him down.
Although Moustafa was in the middle of the plane, he said he could see the flight attendant run past him to the back of the plane, grab a coffee pot, and run back to the front.
“Many passengers held him while the flight attendant bashed him on the head with a coffee pot many times he was bleeding and pinned down until we landed and the police and FBI boarded
After landing in Kansas City, authorities removed the unnamed individual and asked people on the plane about what they witnessed.
Footage posted to Twitter by Moustafa showed the unnamed man restrained on the floor of the plane as police tried to remove him. In the video, a passenger can be heard asking if anyone knew what happened.
In January 2021, the FAA introduced an order to create stricter rules and consequences for unruly passengers after a significant increase in incidents.
Instead of issuing warnings, the Zero Tolerance Policy allows law enforcement to detain any individual who assaults or threatens airline staff, even if they are first-time offenders.
Unruly passengers can face fines up to $37,000 per violation. One incident can result in multiple violations and fines.
Another video showed Moustafa talking with the pilot who explained they were 40 miles away from Kansas City so they were able to pull off a quick landing.
The pilot also explained that the unruly passenger was attempting to gain access to the cockpit but was unable to open the door. He then attempted to open the plane door.
The FBI’s office in Kansas City said in a statement that the individual was taken into custody. The individual’s name has not been released.