Flight headed for DC diverted to NC after unruly passenger rushes flight deck

An American Airlines flight headed from Jacksonville to Washington, DC, was unexpectedly diverted to Raleigh-Durham after an out of control passenger reportedly attempted to rush the cockpit mid-flight.

According to scanner audio from the Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority Police, the passenger, an adult female, attempted to gain access to the cockpit when she experienced what they described as a panic attack in the middle of the flight. The plane was diverted to RDU and the Federal Aviation Administration implemented a brief ground stop of all flights until the incident was resolved. 

Officials say the woman did not gain access to the flight deck in spite of her attempt. She has been charged with airport obstruction, a misdemeanor offense. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg Tweeted about the incident on Wednesday evening. “FAA leadership has briefed me on today’s flight diversion due to a Level 4 disruption on board,” he wrote. “Thankful to all who helped ensure its safe arrival. As always, safety is our main concern and our top priority.”

The FAA reported the number of unruly passenger incidents skyrocketed in 2021 after the COVID-19 pandemic hit, going from 183 investigations initiated by the FAA in 2020 to 1099 investigations in 2021. 

The Wednesday afternoon flight in question was canceled, and American Airlines says it helped all passengers on board get on to other flights bound for DC. 




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Laura is a freelance writer out of Maryland and a mom of three. Her background is in political science and international relations, and she has been doing political writing and editing for 17 years. Laura has also written parenting pieces for the Today Show and is currently working on writing a collection of remarkable true stories about normal people. She writes for FBA because unbiased news is vital to unity, and readers deserve the facts free of opinion.

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