A woman who yelled profanities at a flight attendant and threatened to kill him caused an airplane to make an unplanned landing and was charged on Monday in a federal court with interfering with the flight crew.
The Alaska Airlines flight, scheduled last Friday from San Francisco to Chicago, landed at Kansas City International Airport in Kansas City, Mo., because the pilot was concerned for the safety of the passengers, the Department of Justice said in a statement on Monday.
The woman charged, Chloe M. DaSilva, 32, had asked if she could change seats, but flight attendants told her the plane was full, according to an affidavit filed in the case. A few minutes into the flight, after she had been in the bathroom in the rear part of the plane for an extended period of time, she began hitting the bathroom door from the inside, the court filing said. At another point in the flight, she also banged on the overhead bins.
Ms. DaSilva was restrained with zip ties by a flight attendant and two passengers at the captain’s request, the affidavit said. She did not resist.
Six crew members and 177 passengers were on the flight, the airline said. Out of caution, a mother and infant who were seated in front of Ms. DaSilva switched seats with another passenger. Ms. DaSilva never physically touched any member of the flight crew, a passenger said in the affidavit.
“After landing, the guest was removed from the aircraft by local law enforcement officers,” the airline said. “The flight then continued onto Chicago without any further incident.”
Flight attendants began monitoring Ms. DaSilva after she had interrupted the initial announcements and safety briefing to ask when the plane was taking off, according to the affidavit.
Once in the air, she went to the back of the plane and told a flight attendant that she couldn’t stay in her seat. She entered the bathroom and banged on the walls. When a flight attendant opened the door for a wellness check, Ms. DaSilva was seen sleeping and was left there, according to the affidavit.
Ms. DaSilva punched the overhead bins while returning to her seat, according to the affidavit. Some time later she threatened to kill a male flight attendant, the court filing said.
Ms. DaSilva, who was arrested on a felony charge of interference with a flight attendant and was being tried in the Western District of Missouri, faces a potential maximum penalty of 20 years and no mandatory minimum sentence, the prosecutor’s office said. The public defenders listed in court documents as representing Ms. DaSilva could not be reached for comment.
The episode is among many that have involved unruly passengers on flights and that have raised questions about the safety of crew members in recent years. The Transportation Security Administration resumed offering self-defense classes to flight attendants and pilots in 2021.
A Frontier Airlines flight in November 2022 from Cincinnati to Tampa was diverted to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport after a passenger was seen with a box cutter. In September 2022, a woman was sentenced to four months in federal prison after spitting on a passenger and shoving a flight attendant on an American Airlines flight.
In 2021, an off-duty flight attendant took control of the speaker system and made an announcement about oxygen masks, prompting a violent confrontation, in which he was subdued.
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