Flight Turns Back After Woman Fakes Illness To Get A Better Seat

Bruce Parkinson, Open Jaw

A woman was escorted off an aircraft and into police custody after she faked having an illness in an attempt to get a better seat – all for a flight of less than two hours.

The woman was aboard an American Eagle flight travelling from Pensacola to Miami. Within an hour of takeoff the aircraft turned around and headed back to the Panhandle in order assist the woman, who claimed to have a medical issues.

The pax notified crew that she had trouble breathing and, believing that she was suffering from a medical emergency, they turned the plane around at around 6:26 a.m. 

It turns out, however, that what she really wanted was a bigger seat, and she complained about being ill after being told it wasn’t possible.

In a statement to media, AA said: “On [20NOV], American Eagle flight 3508 returned to Pensacola due to a passenger who requested medical assistance. The flight took off at 5:43 a.m. and landed back at Pensacola at 6:26 a.m. and taxied to the gate. All passengers deplaned normally at the gate through the main boarding door and onto the jet bridge.”

Inflight staff notified ground control about the incident and, once on the ground, the female passenger refused to disembark the aircraft. Other pax were asked to leave in order for the police to embark and take her into custody.

“The passenger was subsequently removed by law enforcement and medical personnel, and the flight took off again at 7:41 a.m.,” the statement said.

The Daily Mail reported that the passenger admitted to faking the illness in order to get a better seat, and she was taken into police custody under the Baker Act, which states that authorities are allowed to detain and assess any person who poses an imminent threat to themselves and other people.

Mike Wood, Pensacola Police Department public information officer, also said that the woman was taken into custody due to certain things that she had said during an exchange between her and the authorities. He said no charges had been filed as of yet.

Bruce Parkinson

Bruce Parkinson Editor-in-Chief

An observer and analyst of the Canadian and international travel industries for over 25 years, Bruce uses the pre-dawn hours to prepare a daily news and information package to keep industry members up to date.

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