An unruly passenger has struck again, but, this time the airline struck back. An American Airlines flight was diverted to Kansas City International Airport in Missouri on Sunday afternoon because of “an unruly passenger,” according to the Associated Press. The flight was originally going from Washington, D.C. to Los Angeles.
Juan Rivas, a Los Angeles resident, was subdued by both passengers and crew members when he tried to open one of the plane’s doors. The real highlight of the melee was one flight attendant who hit Rivas over the head with a coffee pot as he tried to open the door. The Transportation Safety Agency told CBS News there weren’t any air marshals on board, and the suspect was eventually restrained by two passengers and two off-duty police officers.
The charge – a felony – carries up to a 20 year prison sentence if Rivas is eventually convicted.
According to an affidavit, one flight attendant told investigators that Rivas first approached the front of the plane to tell a flight attendant that “people were attempting to hurt him and they followed him onto the plane.” He told the attendant one of those people was sitting in his row, so they allowed him to switch to a different seat.
Some time later, Rivas approached the cockpit again and told the flight attendant the plane wasn’t actually flying. That’s when things started to go south… quickly.
The flight attendant put a service cart between her and Rivas to keep some distance. He then allegedly grabbed plastic cutlery and shoved it up his sleeve, holding it “like a shank.” He then allegedly tried to smash a champagne bottle on the counter.
Rivas then tried to open the passenger door to the plane. A passenger said in the affidavit that he was pulling so hard the door moved two to three inches away from the frame.
This is when our coffee pot hero comes into play. They struck Rivas multiple times with the coffee pot before passengers stepped into subdue him. Once Rivas was on the ground, passengers said they taped his legs and used zip ties from the flight attendants to restrain him.
Another passenger – one of the off-duty cops – said he punched Rivas and helped restrain him with handcuffs and duct tape.
Part of the incident was captured on video and posted to Twitter. User Mouaz Moustafa documented a lot of what happened, including the change in flight paths.
Flight attendants told investigators they did not see Rivas drink any alcohol during the flight.
The flight attendants’ union – the Association of Professional Flight Attendants tweeted “this violent behavior must stop.”
This is just the latest incident of unruly passengers on planes. 2021 was actually the worst year on record for ne’er-do-well airline passengers. Last year, the FAA received more than 5,500 reports of unruly behavior. 2022 is off to a roaring start as well. Nearly 400 incidents have been reported so far this year.