Nuts & Crackers Pax Denies Responsibility For Diversion
and crackers. That’s what the man wanted. The same words could be an apt
description of his mental state.
Jeremiah Mathis Thede was the passenger responsible for the very costly
diversion of UA971 from FCO to ORD 20JUN.
was reported at the time that Thede’s insistent demands for more and more
crackers and nuts to nibble aboard the flight progressed to behaviour so
erratic that the pilot diverted the aircraft and dumped 50,000 litres of fuel.
plane landed at BFS, where 270 pax were forced to spend the night, with many of
them sleeping on an airport floor. The cost of the incident to the airline was
estimated at $650,000.
extraordinary story of UA971 is back in the news, as Thede is being tried in an
Irish court. The court has heard that the Californian had made insistent
demands for nuts and crackers, then paced the aisle, lifting bags, opening
overhead bins and disturbing pax and crew.
airport policeman said Thede refused to sit down until fed nuts. Ten minutes
later he arose and demanded yet more nuts. When cabin crew told the Californian
nut fancier to wait until other pax had been served, Thede retorted: “I can
have as much nuts and crackers as I f****** want!”
his behaviour, which one fellow pax described as ‘creepy,’ grew so disruptive
the pilot decided to head for Belfast.
barrister Aaron Thompson described the high-profile case as “novel” and said
his client was “not even aware” of common assault as an offence. The lawyer
told the judge that diverting the plane was not his client’s decision. “These
are all decisions taken by the flight crew,” said Thompson. “The pilot takes a
decision to divert at a large cost.”
was reported to have spoken several times during the brief court hearing to
confirm he did not wish to give evidence or call witnesses at this stage. The