American Airlines operated a three hour flight to (just about) nowhere so that a 13-year-old could be taken into custody, after being duct-taped to his seat.
American Airlines flight from Maui diverts
One of yesterday’s American Airlines flights from Maui (OGG) to Los Angeles (LAX) ended up diverting to Honolulu (HNL). Specifically, AA212 was scheduled to depart Maui at 12:40PM. The flight was operated by an Airbus A321neo.
Just over an hour into the flight, the decision was made to divert. The stretch between Hawaii and California has no diversion points, so eventually the decision was made to return to Hawaii.
Rather than returning to Maui, the plane instead diverted to Honolulu (presumably it’s easier to find hotels and accommodate people on other flights there), where it landed exactly three hours after departing from Maui. Yep, the passengers had a three hour flight to nowhere (well, or more accurately, to 100 miles from where they started).
So, what exactly caused this diversion? As an airline spokesperson describes it, it was “due to an incident with a passenger on board.”
The incident that caused this diversion
CBS Los Angeles reports that the reason for the diversion involved a 13-year-old boy, who became disruptive about an hour into the flight. According to eyewitness reports from other passengers on the flight, the boy became physical with his mother, and tried to kick out the window.
There’s video footage from the flight showing the teen being restrained, and a flight attendant seemingly duct-taping him to his seat. The 13-year-old was taken into custody in Honolulu.
From the initial report I saw, there weren’t any more details provided of what exactly unfolded. Was the kid just super violent, or what exactly would cause something like this? Well, a later story by The Daily Mail suggests that there may be more to this. I can’t speak to the accuracy of this report, but according to this report:
- The 13-year-old boy is autistic, and was fighting with his mom on the flight, and refused to calm down
- The mom allegedly had one arm, and had a difficult time getting her son to calm down, and controlling his movement
- Then the 13-year-old’s younger brother panicked at the situation, and tried to kick out the window
I’m not sure how much of this accurate, since that wasn’t at all reflected in the initial report, which had several eyewitness statements. However, this would certainly explain why this might have been a more complicated situation than we initially assumed.
The FAA has a zero-tolerance policy for bad inflight behavior, so I’m curious if that will be applied, or if the potential circumstances will limit that.
Unfortunately this isn’t the first incident we’ve seen involving duct tape, and the previous one was arguably a lot worse. On July 31, a 22-year-old Frontier Airlines passenger got duct-taped to his seat. How sad that nowadays airline passengers having to be duct-taped to their seats has become such a common occurrence.
Frontier passenger allegedly touched 2 flight attendants breasts, then screamed his parents are worth $2 million, before punching a flight attendant. Frontier suspended the crew for duct taping the passenger to his seat as they landed in Miami. 22 yr old Max Berry is in custody. pic.twitter.com/4xS9Rwvafx— Sam Sweeney (@SweeneyABC) August 3, 2021
An American Airlines flight from Maui to Los Angeles had to divert to Honolulu after a 13-year-old on the plane could no longer be controlled. Initial reports suggested that the teen was fighting with his mother, but more recent reports suggest he may have been autistic, and that his younger brother was panicking as well.
The fact that duct tape is now becoming a common solution for restraining passengers sure is interesting to me…