A Portland man allegedly tried to open the emergency door of a Delta Air Lines flight because he wanted people to videotape him sharing his thoughts on the Covid-19 vaccine, federal authorities said.
Michael Brandon Demarre, 32, was arrested and charged with threatening to interfere and interfering with a flight crew and attendants, according to a press release by the U.S. Attorney’s Office from the District of Oregon.
An affidavit alleges that Demarre tried to open an emergency exit on flight 1580 from Salt Lake City to Portland on Friday. Witnesses told Port of Portland Police Department officers that Demarre allegedly removed a plastic covering over the emergency exit handle and “pulled on the handle with his full body weight,” the affidavit states.
A flight attendant told him to stop touching the handle and to move to the back of the aircraft, where he was restrained until the plane landed.
Federal authorities wrote in the affidavit that Demarre said he tried to open the door “so other passengers would video him, thereby giving him the opportunity to share his thoughts on Covid-19 vaccines.”
Demarre appeared in court on Monday and was ordered to be held pending further proceedings. His attorney could not immediately be reached on Wednesday.
Delta said it has “zero tolerance for unruly customers and will continue to take action to reinforce the safety of our people and customers.”
There have been several recent reports of passengers causing disturbances on flights. On Feb. 3, Delta CEO Ed Bastian sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland requesting that people convicted of these crimes be added to a national no-fly list “that would bar that person from traveling on any commercial air carrier.”
“This action will help prevent future incidents and serve as a strong symbol of the consequences of not complying with crew member instructions on commercial aircraft,” he wrote.
Bastian said since 2019 the number of incidents involving unruly passengers increased nearly 100 percent.