Entries in American Airlines (29)


Man Arrested for Locking Himself in American Airlines Cockpit

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(BATON ROUGE, La.) - A man who Wednesday locked himself inside an American Eagle plane cockpit in Baton Rouge, La., surrendered to authorities and was in police custody, law enforcement sources told ABC News.

The man was identified as Andrew Alessi by the Baton Rouge police. He will likely be charged with interfering with a flight crew, according to a federal law enforcement source.

American Eagle Airlines is a regional partner of American Airlines.

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Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport Chief of Airport Security Anthony Williams said that the aircraft was in the process of a turnaround, having just flown in from Dallas, when the man got on the plane.

"It had been cleared of passengers," Williams said at a news briefing. "No passengers were ever in danger and they were in the process of clearing the plane and doing their final security walk-through. And what apparently happened, the gentleman in question pushed past the gate agent who was at the gate and ran down the jet bridge."

Another American Airlines employee "challenged" Alessi at the entrance of the plane, but Alessi got past him and locked himself in the cockpit. Williams said the cockpit is "virtually impregnable" once it is locked from the inside.

The plane was immobilized and Alessi did not know how to fly a plane, according to a spokesman for the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport.

The plane was quickly disabled by disconnecting the external power so that there would have been no way to start the plane. The aircraft also remained attached to the push-back vehicle, the spokesman said.

Alessi was reportedly upset about a personal situation.

American Airlines personnel immediately notified airport police, and a SWAT team from the Baton Rouge Police Department negotiated with the man and got him out of the cockpit and off the plane. The negotiation lasted between two to three hours, according to Baton Rouge Airport spokesman Jim Caldwell.

The FBI and ATF were on-scene to assist.

Alessi was a ticketed passenger and had cleared security. He had no weapons.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Smoke on American Eagle Flight Causes Dramatic Emergency Landing

File photo. American Airlines(BARTONVILLE, Ill.) -- An American Eagle flight bound for Chicago was diverted first because of bad weather. But as the plane was about to land, smoke began to fill the cabin, causing passengers to jump from the aircraft after it landed safely.

All 53 people and four crew members on board made it out safely, although American Airlines reported one passenger injured an ankle.

American Airlines Flight 3773 took off from Denver on Wednesday, but was diverted to Peoria International Airport because of bad weather.  As the plane approached for landing, smoke began pouring from the ceiling of the aircraft.

Many frightened passengers believed something was burning above in the plane's ceiling, but American Airlines released a statement overnight saying there was no fire on board and "we have concluded that the smoke came from a house fire near the Peoria airport ... not from the aircraft."

"Right as we are landing, we smelled burnt rubber," said passenger Rita Bentley after the emergency landing.  "And I was sitting next to two flight attendants and we all said, something must be burning."

Chris Pyle began shooting video of the smoke as it filled the cabin.  "All of a sudden smoke started coming out of the ceiling," he said.

Pyle said his thoughts turned to his children while other passengers prayed.

"It was eerily quiet on the plane. No one was screaming. Everyone was just very concerned about what was going on," he said.

After the plane landed, passengers were instructed by the flight crew to exit immediately via the emergency exits over the wings of the aircraft.  Not wasting any time, the captain stopped the plane shortly after landing, and that's when the passengers began exiting the plane and jumping onto the runway.

One passenger managed to take a cellphone video of the dramatic landing and upload it to YouTube.

"This is how we just got off this freaking plane," he said on the video.  "No joke."

"It was an experience," said Bentley. "I've always been an adventurous person, but I never thought I'd have that kind of adventure."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Several Injured After Turbulence Hits American Airlines Flight

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(MIAMI) -- Several people aboard an American Airlines flight from Aruba to Miami were treated for injuries Tuesday evening after the plane was hit with turbulence prior to landing.

In a statement, the carrier said Flight 1780 "encountered moderate turbulence" for about 15 seconds roughly 30 minutes before it was scheduled to land in Miami.  

Upon landing safely at 6:06 p.m., two flight attendants and three passengers were transported to a nearby hospital for medical treatment.  A handful of other passengers were treated at the gate at Miami International Airport.  None of the injuries were said to be critical.

American Airlines said the seatbelt sign was lit when the plane started shaking, and "nothing on the radar indicated that turbulence was in the area."

The Boeing 757 had 185 passengers and six crew members on board.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


American Airlines Passenger Defends Ranting Flight Attendant

Hemera/Thinkstock (file photo)(NEW YORK) -- One passenger has defended the flight attendant who lashed out at complaining passengers on a long-delayed flight from New York's LaGuardia Airport, although other passengers say they feared his behavior and worried about flying with him.

Hanna and David Abel were on board American Eagle flight 4607, bound for Raleigh-Durham, N.C., on Monday when flight attendant Jose Serrano told passengers they could leave the plane if "anyone has the balls" to do it, according to cellphone video obtained by the New York Post.

"I don't want to hear anything," Serrano told passengers over the plane's PA system.  Witnesses say Serrano said something about this probably being his last flight.

"The scariest part was that if we did go back in the air with him, what if he just opened the door and let a few passengers out, you know?" said passenger Hanna Abel.

The flight was eventually canceled because the delays were too long and the crew ran out of time to fly legally.

American Airlines issued an email from a first-class passenger defending the flight attendant and blaming the incident on "the most horrible display of passenger aggressiveness" toward Serrano.

The airline also issued an apology, saying, "We do not believe that the passengers' frustrations were always met with the level of service that we expect from our people, and for that we are truly sorry."

The flight was originally scheduled to leave at 1:25 p.m., but passengers were prevented from boarding until nearly 4 p.m. because of rain delays.  The plane was then delayed an additional 40 minutes behind other traffic, and passengers were told the aircraft would return to the gate to be refueled.  Passengers deplaned and reboarded at 6 p.m. but were held again on the tarmac.

That's when passengers began to grumble and Serrano apparently lost him composure.  Police were called onto the plane and removed four passengers along with Serrano.

Passengers said they were worried Serrano might do something rash and compared his behavior to that of a Jet Blue attendant two years ago.

The JetBlue flight attendant, Steven Slater, cursed at passengers in 2010 before exiting the plane down the emergency slide.  Earlier this year, JetBlue pilot Clayton Osbon suffered a mid-air meltdown and had to be restrained by passengers.

Passengers on flight 4607 eventually went to hotels for the night and were able to catch a flight the next day.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


DEA: American Airlines Workers Smuggled Cocaine into Miami, New York

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- In the latest arrests of U.S. airport workers on drug smuggling charges, authorities charged that two rings of nearly 50 corrupt employees at Puerto Rico's main airport smuggled thousands of kilograms of cocaine onto commercial flights bound for mainland U.S. cities, including Miami, Orlando and New York.

One ring, allegedly led by Maribel Rodriguez Fragoso, a.k.a. La Flaca or "the Skinny Woman," was made up of workers for a baggage handling and maintenance company at San Juan's Luis Munoz Marin International Airport, and allegedly brought cocaine-stuffed backpacks and suitcases into cities up and down the East Coast between 2010 and 2012. The other, allegedly led by American Airlines employee Wilfredo Rodriguez Rosado, included American Airlines workers and is charged with smuggling more than 9,000 kilos of the white powder between 2000 and 2009.

The DEA arrested 36 people Wednesday morning, and unsealed indictments charging a total of 45 individuals with conspiracy to distribute cocaine and violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). In addition to arrests in Puerto Rico, a DEA official says three American Airlines employees were arrested in the mainland U.S. -- two in Miami and one in Dallas.

The DEA alleges members of the La Flaca ring used their company's baggage vehicles to take suitcases stuffed with cocaine and place them directly on commercial flights. The ring would also allegedly bring cocaine into airport employee-only restrooms, where ring members would hand backpacks full of cocaine to drug couriers who would then board planes. The ring allegedly shipped cocaine to Boston, Philadelphia, New York and Orlando, among other cities.

The American Airlines ring was disrupted by the DEA in 2009 in an operation called Heavy Cargo. Twenty-three people, including nine American Airlines employees, were indicted, and Rodriguez and 21 others pled guilty. According to authorities, members of the ring transported suitcases full of cocaine from the American Airlines cargo area and onto American Airlines flights bound for such cities as Newark, New York, Miami and Orlando. The DEA Wednesday announced indictments of 20 more individuals who were allegedly involved in the smuggling ring.

The arrests come 13 years after the DEA's Operation Ramp Rats, in which the agency busted 59 individuals, most of them American Airlines employees, for alleged involvement in drug smuggling at Miami International and JFK. While some workers were acquitted, dozens were convicted or pled guilty. More recently, the DEA brought drug smuggling charges against airline or airport workers in 2007 and 2010.

"DEA will continue to dismantle these organizations that think they can blatantly use legitimate entities to carry out their smuggling operations," said DEA Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Caribbean Division, Pedro Janer.

DEA Deputy Administrator Thomas M. Harrigan said Wednesday, "Americans have a right to expect the highest integrity from those they entrust with their safety, and DEA is committed to protecting that trust. Wednesday's arrests at one of the nation's busiest airports reflect our relentless commitment to working with our partners to aggressively fight drug trafficking, not only at our nation's points of entry, but at source, transit, and arrival zones throughout the world."

The defendants in both cases are facing a minimum term of 10 years to life if convicted on all charges.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Man Tries to Rush Cockpit on American Airlines Flight

File photo. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)(MIAMI) -- A "disoriented" Canadian man has been arrested for attempting to rush the cockpit of an American Airlines plane at the Miami International Airport on Friday.

Ryan Snider, 24, was subdued by two first-class passengers as he tried to break into the cockpit. He is expected to face federal charges that could include interference with a flight crew, according to the FBI.

One of the passengers who restrained him, Malik Cann, told ABC News' Miami affiliate WPLG how they grabbed Snider and held him down.

"We weren't going to allow him to harm anybody or get to the cockpit," Cann said. "He was screaming. 'Get me off the plane. Get me off the plane.' That's all he wanted to do."

Snider does not appear to have any connections to terrorism and was not on the "no fly list," according to FBI Miami spokesman Michael Leverock.

None of the 165 passengers on board were injured and there was no damage to the plane.

An American Airlines representative told ABC News that Snider moved quickly toward the front of the airplane, but did not make it to the cockpit before being restrained. He may have bumped the door as he was being subdued.

The captain of the flight did not feel that there was a security threat.

The plane was American Airlines flight 320 from Montego Bay to Miami. Police responded to reports of an unruly passenger, according to the airport.

"We had what appeared to be a 'disoriented' male passenger who stood up at his seat in the Main Cabin after landing in Miami as the flight was taxiing in," an American Airlines representative told ABC News. "He did not obey crewmember instructions to sit down and then moved toward the front of the aircraft where he was subdued. He was turned over to police upon arrival at the gate."

The FBI's Miami field office said, "We are aware of an incident on a plane in bound to MIA today (AA 320) in which a passenger reportedly rushed the cockpit door. The FBI is investigating the alleged incident. Nevertheless the plane did land safely without damage to the plane or injuries."

The Transportation Security Administration said in a statement that the flight was met by law enforcement "out of an abundance of caution" and that the passenger in question is being interviewed.

Snider is expected to make is first court appearance on Tuesday in Miami.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Flight Attendant Rant Sends American Airlines Flight Back to Gate

Nick Rallo/Dallas Observer(DALLAS) -- An American Airlines flight headed from Dallas-Fort Worth to Chicago returned to the gate just prior to take off Friday morning when a female flight attendant began making inflammatory remarks over the public address system.

A source tells ABC News the flight attendant's remarks included talk of the plane crashing and may have touched on 9/11 and American Airline's union issues.

Officials at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport say two females were transported to local hospitals after the incident, one to Parkland Health and Hospital System, and one to Baylor Grapevine.

American Airlines' parent company, AMR Corp., filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Nov. 29, 2011. Bloomberg reports that union groups, including flight attendants, on Thursday, asked mediators to join talks with management as the carrier seeks $1.25 billion in labor concessions, including 13,000 job cuts.

Passengers intervened and restrained the flight attendant before Dallas airport police boarded the flight. The Dallas Morning News reports passengers said police escorted the flight attendant, kicking and screaming, to one of several police cars that surrounded the plane on the tarmac. The airline is treating the incident as a medical issue.

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American Airlines said in a statement:

"This morning Flight 2332 had left the gate at DFW bound for Chicago, when an incident occurred involving some of the cabin crew. The aircraft returned to the gate, where it was met by Department of Public Safety officers. Two flight attendants were taken to local hospitals for treatment. We continue to investigate the details and circumstances and will have no further comment at this time.

We will ensure that the affected flight attendants receive proper care, and we commend our other crew members for their assistance in quickly getting the aircraft back to the gate so that customers could be re-accommodated. Our customers were not in danger at any time.

The cabin crew was replaced. The flight departed for Chicago at 9:46 a.m., and is scheduled to land around noon. We apologize for any inconvenience to our customers and we appreciate their patience and understanding."

Officials at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport tell ABC News they are not pursuing any charges at this time.

The Association of Professional Flight Attendants has also issued a statement:

"There was an unfortunate but non-violent confrontation involving a flight attendant aboard an aircraft preparing for takeoff this morning at DFW.

Passenger accounts have been reported in the media, but details remain sketchy.

The incident is being investigated by the proper authorities with the full cooperation of APFA. APFA representatives have been in contact with the crew, the company, and the authorities and are providing assistance as needed. No one was seriously injured and the flight to ORD did eventually take off with a different flight attendant crew."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


American Airlines Flight Turbulence Injures 6

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(MIAMI) -- Six crew members aboard an American Airlines flight en route from Brazil to Miami Sunday were sent to the hospital after the flight experienced severe turbulence, airline officials said.

American Airlines Flight 980 was carrying 136 passengers and nine crew members from Brazil’s Recife Airport to Miami International Airport when it was hit with bad turbulence, airport spokeswoman Maria Levrant said.

Passengers said the turbulence occurred about two hours into the eight-hour flight, and came out of nowhere.

The crew was said to be caught by surprise and thus took the brunt of the injuries.  One flight attendant was reportedly hit by a food cart that flew into the air, which damaged the plane’s ceiling and then landed on her.

Firefighters from the Miami-Dade Fire Department met the flight when it landed in Miami around 6:30 p.m. local time and took five of the injured crew members to area hospitals.

The sixth injured crew member was treated on the scene, and no passengers were injured, according to ABC News Miami affiliate WPLG.  No other information was released about the severity of the crew’s injuries.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Woman Boards Plane with Gun in Her Bag

Hemera/Thinkstock(DALLAS) -- A passenger at the Dallas/Fort Worth International airport was able to board a plane with a gun inside her carry-on luggage Wednesday, but was taken off the aircraft and detained by security officials before the flight could take off.

The 65-year-old woman walked away from the security checkpoint, luggage in hand, and onto an American Airlines flight before screeners became aware of the bag's contents.

The woman will be charged with places weapons prohibited, according to ABC News Dallas affiliate WFAA-TV.

The Transportation Security Administration released the following statement:

At approximately 6:20 a.m. CST, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Officers at Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport checkpoint D-30 detected a firearm in a carry-on bag. The owner of the bag left the checkpoint before the screening process was complete and prior to surrendering the firearm. To ensure the safety of the traveling public, TSA worked with local law enforcement to locate the passenger and firearm before the plane departed. The passenger in question was taken into custody by Dallas Police and normal operations have resumed.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Jack the Cat Found at JFK Airport

Facebook(NEW YORK) -- Jack the Cat, who has been missing for over seven weeks after getting lost in the American Airlines baggage check area at New York’s JFK airport, has been found.

“American Airlines is happy to announce that Jack the Cat has been found safe and well at JFK airport.  American’s team of airport employees have been focused on the search effort since Jack escaped on August 25, 2011.  Jack was found in the customs room and was immediately taken by team members to a local veterinarian.  The vet has advised that Jack is doing well at present,” a statement on the airline’s Facebook page read.

Jack’s owner was immediately informed Tuesday that her pet was found and, according to the statement, American will fly Jack to California to be reunited with his owner.

The “Jack The Cat is Lost in AA Baggage at JFK” Facebook page has more than 15,000 followers and is frequently updated -- sometimes several times a day.  Every post elicits dozens, sometimes hundreds, of comments from outraged and sympathetic supporters.

Jack disappeared on Aug. 25 when his owner, Karen Pascoe, was traveling from New York to California.  She dropped her two cats off in their kennels at baggage services and soon received a call from an American Airlines agent telling her that one of her cats was missing and they believed he was in the inbound baggage claim area.

A Department of Transportation Pet Incident Report released on Oct. 13 revealed exactly how Jack was lost.  Each of Pascoe’s cats was in its own kennel, which a clerk stacked one on top of the other.  The top kennel fell and Jack escaped.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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