A United Airlines flight from Rome to Chicago was diverted Monday after a passenger went on a rampage because he didn’t get enough nuts. The flight had to make an unscheduled landing in North Ireland’s Belfast International Airport; authorities claimed the safety of the airplane was threatened.
ABC News reports that the man, Jeremiah Mathis Thede, was charged with “endangering the safety of an aircraft, disruptive behavior and common assault.” The 42-year-old dual citizen of Italy and America started trouble soon after takeoff.
Police reports to the Coleraine Magistrates’ Court claim the man asked for nuts or crackers after the plane took off. Thede received the nuts but demanded more.
According to the Independent, the air attendants told Thede he could have some more nuts if there were any left after the other passengers received theirs.
That’s when the rage began.
Thede reportedly stood up while the seatbelt sign was flashing.
He refused to sit down, yelling “I can have as much f*****g nuts or crackers as I want.”
A crew member said the man was blocking aisles and handling random bags. At one point, he was “squared up” – meaning preparing to fight – over the small bags of nuts. The captain eventually asked male passengers to surround Thede “in case he became physically violent” and diverted the flight to North Ireland.
Authorities report that Thede never struck anyone during the flight, although he is being charged with common assault against one female cabin crew member.
The nut-rage was costly for everyone involved in the flight.
The pilot was forced to dump 50,000 liters of fuel in order to safely land the diverted aircraft hundreds of miles short of its intended destination – costing around $550,000 (€490,000).
Since there were not enough hotel rooms around the Belfast terminal, 268 passengers had to sleep on the floor.
During a court hearing, Constable William Robinson objected to bail, given the suspect’s ability to abscond, potentially to his hometown of Berkeley, CA.
Defence barrister Aaron Thompson insists that his client, “has done nothing wrong and this was an over-reaction by the staff on the plane.”
He added that if given bail, Thede would give up his passport and rent a place in North Ireland for the hearings over the diverted flight.
Deputy District Judge Chris Holmes said a negative background check and an address would be sufficient.
It’s unclear when the passengers of the diverted flight would resume their trip or if the rampaging passenger ever received the extra nuts.
[Image Credit: Sanjay Acharya/Wikimedia Commons]