An American Airlines flight was forced to make an emergency landing in North Carolina on Wednesday after an “unruly” woman in first class allegedly tried to breach the cockpit — because she was upset at not being served a drink.
American Eagle Flight 3444 from Jacksonville, Florida, to Washington, DC, was diverted to Raleigh-Durham International Airport about 3:40 p.m. “due to a security concern involving an unruly customer,” the airline said in a statement.
Tiffany Miles, 36, was arrested on a misdemeanor charge and was released on bond, CNN reported, citing the Raleigh/Wake City-County Bureau of Identification.
In radio transmissions from Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority Police, officers are heard saying Miles “tried to breach the cockpit” and was “being somewhat restrained by the flight crew and other passengers,” according to CNN.
The Federal Aviation Administration said she charged at the cockpit door.
Passenger Kara Rosario told ABC 11 that Miles was getting upset when she wasn’t being served her drink.
She said another passenger got up to help the flight attendants as they tried to calm the woman down.
“He heard the commotion and he went up to first class to assist and see if he could help at all,” Rosario told the outlet.
“He wasn’t a marshal at all or police officer, just a citizen who was trying to help defuse the situation. You could feel that we were in it together and were willing to do what was needed but the gentleman behind me was the first to get up and take matters into his own hands,” she said.
The FBI Charlotte Field Office also responded to the airport.
“The FBI is currently conducting interviews to gather the facts and will consult with the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of North Carolina to determine if federal charges will be filed,” FBI spokeswoman Shelley Lynch said.
American Airlines rep Derek Walls told ABC 11 in a statement: “Safety and security are our top priorities, and we thank our customers for their cooperation and our team members for their professionalism in managing a difficult situation.”
US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg tweeted Wednesday night that he was briefed on “a Level 4 disruption” on the flight.
A Level 4 disruption is an “attempted or actual breach of the flight deck,” according to the FAA.
The agency said it is working on a rule that would require new planes to have a second barrier to the cockpit.
“Last year, we made progress to require new planes to have a second barrier to the flight deck after the rule stalled under the previous administration. We’re working quickly to issue the final rule,” the FAA said in a statement.