An Alaska Airlines flight was forced to land midway after an unruly and visibly intoxicated passenger threatened the crew and his fellow passengers with death, according to a statement released by the company late Tuesday night.
Alaska Airlines Flight 769 was en route from Boston to San Diego when the male passenger “became disruptive,” read the statement.
Airline spokeswoman Ann Zaninovich said the passenger, whose identity has not been released, was told to calm down by the crew, but not only did he continue to verbally abuse his fellow passengers, but even threatened the crew with grave warnings.
“He was told to calm down by flight crew, and then became agitated and verbally abusive, even issuing a threat to flight crew.”
A video of the incident, where the passenger can be seen being escorted outside by officials, was shot by a fellow passenger and uploaded on social media. In the cell phone video, fellow passengers in the cabin can be seen applauding as officers lead the man down the aisle.
According to a passenger who spoke to NBC News about the incident, the passenger became infuriated after the crew members wouldn’t allow him to take small nips from a bottle of alcohol he had brought on board the Alaska Airlines flight. And then it got worse.
“He was upset the flight attendants would not let him drink the nips [small bottles of alcohol] he brought on,” said Clair Conroy, who was sitting close to the ousted passenger. “He got very belligerent, saying, ‘OK, but you know that now we are all going to die.’ He kept saying, ‘I’m not a terrorist but we’re going to die.’ He then started making threats at the passengers.”
It was then that the crew decided to divert the flight. With the plane almost three hours into the journey and cruising at 32,000 feet, officials said the unruly passenger left the crew of the Alaska Airlines flight no option but to land midway.
“The decision was taken out of an abundance of caution,” said Zaninovich.
The flight was diverted to Denver, the closest airport at that point of time.
Once the plane landed in Denver, police officers boarded the aircraft and escorted the man out of the aircraft.
— Rebecca Shepard (@mamashepesq) February 10, 2016
This is not the first time that Alaska Airlines has been in the news for all the wrong reasons in recent times. As reported by Inquisitr last month, an Alaska Airlines pilot, David Hans Arntson, was accused of flying from Portland on to Orange County’s John Wayne Airport in a drunken state by federal authorities.
Although Arntson denied the charges later, evidence showed that he was drunk indeed, with tests showing an insanely high amount of alcohol in his system.
But while this time it is not a crew member who was drunk on board, Alaska Airlines will still not be pleased to see the company’s name pop up in the media so soon after the pilot was accused of flying drunk. Not only does the present case refresh our memory, it also creates a bad name for the company itself, which has tried hard to distance itself from the ongoing controversy.
The present case also sheds light on the necessity of tests performed at the airport before boarding a flight. As of now, it seems it is too easy for drunken individuals to get on board, something that should definitely be a concern for the aviation industry.
For now, however, we must be pleased that nothing untoward happened on the Alaska Airlines flight.
[Image via Shutterstock]