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A flight was diverted after a passenger tried to open the plane door

An American Airlines flight to Washington, D.C., was diverted to Kansas City, Mo., on Sunday due to an unruly passenger.
Alan Diaz
/
AP
An American Airlines flight to Washington, D.C., was diverted to Kansas City, Mo., on Sunday due to an unruly passenger.

An unruly passenger on a flight bound from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., tried to open the door of the aircraft on Sunday, causing the plane to divert to Kansas City, Mo.

The passenger, who also tried to rush the cockpit, attempted to open the forward passenger door before a flight attendant used a coffeepot to subdue the individual, according to a spokesperson for the Association of Professional Flight Attendants.

"It felt like the plane was free falling and many feared the worst because people weren't fully aware of what was unfolding," tweeted a passenger on the flight, who described the unruly passenger as a middle-aged man. The flight attendant reportedly struck the man multiple times with the coffeepot while passengers restrained him.

American Airlines confirmed that the flight was diverted "due to an unruly passenger displaying erratic behavior, who was ultimately subdued by our crew and with the help of other passengers. The flight landed safely at Kansas City International Airport, and law enforcement met the flight on arrival." The airline thanked the flight crew and the passengers who helped the crew.

A man who appears to be the flight's pilot told a passenger that the individual had tried to open the plane's door and the cockpit door.

The FBI says the individual has been taken into custody.

A flight radar tracker shows the flight made a swift and sudden turn to land at the Kansas City airport on Sunday afternoon. The flight, American Airlines 1775, had departed Los Angeles in the morning.

The Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) called for such violent behavior to stop. "APFA will continue to collaborate with other Flight Attendant and Customer Service Agent Unions, the Department of Transportation, the Federal Aviation Administration, and Congress to ensure these offenders are prosecuted to the full extent of the law with appropriate fines, criminal penalties, and applicable flying bans," it said in a statement.

A survey last summer by the Association of Flight Attendants showed that 85% of attendants had dealt with unruly passengers in 2021 and that nearly 1 in 5 had experienced physical incidents.

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Laurel Wamsley is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She reports breaking news for NPR's digital coverage, newscasts, and news magazines, as well as occasional features. She was also the lead reporter for NPR's coverage of the 2019 Women's World Cup in France.
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