A Southwest Flight Made an Emergency Landing After an In-Flight Case of Non-Consensual Footsie Got Out of Hand

Illustration for article titled A Southwest Flight Made an Emergency Landing After an In-Flight Case of Non-Consensual Footsie Got Out of Hand
Photo: Wilfredo Lee (AP)

If you’ve ever flown before, you know the feeling: as you hunt down your seat, you’re hoping and praying that the person next to you won’t be some weirdo who doesn’t understand the concept of personal space. Normally, we’re pretty lucky. But on Tuesday, a Southwest flight had to make an emergency landing because of one man’s insistence that he play footsie with his seatmate.


It sounds silly at first, but the details of the whole event quickly get pretty disturbing. According to the Department of Justice, a 29-year-old Texan by the name of Justin Brafford is being charged with simple assault and intimidating members of a flight crew because things just got out of control.

See, on the flight from Los Angeles to Dallas, Brafford was seated next to a woman with whom he decided he really needed to play footsie. This is, arguably, every woman’s nightmare: dear lord, I’m trapped in this flying hunk of metal with nowhere to go and this weird dude next to me keeps rubbing his feet on mine.

Things just got worse from there. Brafford started to delve into verbal harassment, too, when she started to look uncomfortable, according to USA Today. After the man warned his seatmate “don’t f*ck with me”, a flight attendant agreed to swap the woman’s seat.

But Brafford wasn’t done. See, after the woman was re-seated, he confronted her. Flight attendants tried to get him to quietly return to his own seat, but Brafford went wild. He dived into an expletive filled rant against the flight attendant that got so terrifying the pilot diverted the plan to Albuquerque so that Brafford could be escorted off the plane by the police.

According to authorities, that rant was, uh, due to some illicit substances. Brafford claimed he was receiving “calls” from God after using methamphetamines the day before the flight—and after overdosing on heroin over the weekend. What God and drugs had to do with an aggressive game of footsie, I don’t know, but Brafford is now facing up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for his shenanigans, since messing with a flight crew is a federal offense.

Southwest officials have reaffirmed that the comfort and safety of their passengers is their number one priority, and that the flight continued onto Dallas Love Field without incident after the removal of Brafford.

Weekends at Jalopnik. Managing editor at A Girl's Guide to Cars. Lead IndyCar writer and assistant editor at Frontstretch. Novelist. Motorsport fanatic.


A Drop of Hell, A Touch of Strange

Couldn’t they just have one of those air marshals beat the shit out of him, handcuff him and throw him in the cargo hold? They probably have the free time since people managing to sneak weapons through airport security is pretty rare. If we're going to put cops on planes they should protect the passengers in all cases, not just suspicion of terrorism.