American Airlines Passenger Breaks Into Cockpit, Damages Flight Controls

American Airlines Passenger Breaks Into Cockpit, Damages Flight Controls

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Passengers on an American Airlines flight last night suffered a delay of nearly eight hours, after the flight controls were broken due to the actions of a passenger. This is a truly strange story, as first reported by @SweeneyABC.

American’s bizarre cockpit boarding incident

This incident involves last night’s American Airlines flight 488 from San Pedro Sula (SAP) to Miami (MIA). The flight was operated by an American Airlines Boeing 737-800. According to reports:

  • An American Airlines passenger ran down the jet bridge and onto the aircraft, and straight into the cockpit
  • Once in the cockpit, he damaged some of the flight controls
  • A pilot in the cockpit tried to stop him, at which point the passenger tried to jump out of the open cockpit window

There’s video footage of the passenger trying to jump out of the cockpit window during the boarding process from outside of the aircraft, and there’s also a picture of damage to the left engine throttle in the cockpit.

We don’t yet know the passenger’s motive for what he did, as this sure was a strange act. I’m also not sure I follow the logic of them apparently trying to prevent the man from jumping out of the cockpit window? Was this for his own safety, so he doesn’t hurt himself? If someone is exhibiting such behavior, it seems in everyone’s best interest to not have them in an enclosed space with ~150 other people.

And for anyone wondering how this could happen, generally speaking the cockpit door is open during the boarding process, as the cockpit door typically only closes when boarding is complete (though you need permission to enter). There’s not really a risk that something like this could have happened inflight, since cockpit doors are reinforced.

Passengers were delayed by eight hours

After the incident, American had a planeload of passengers, but the roughly eight year old Boeing 737-800 with the registration code N942NN had to be taken out of service due to the cockpit damage (it’s still on the ground there as of this morning).

American Airlines sent a roughly six year old Boeing 737-800 with the registration code N989NN down to Honduras, along with a replacement crew (since the other crew would have timed out). The plane departed Miami around four hours after the initial incident happened, which I guess isn’t too bad when you consider they had to find an aircraft, crew, etc.

The plane landed in San Pedru Sula at around 10PM, and then was quickly turned around for the flight back to Miami. It departed at 10:45PM, and landed in Miami just before 2AM this morning.

Bottom line

While bizarre airline passenger behavior has become pretty common nowadays, this has to be one of the stranger incidents we’ve seen. A passenger boarding a Miami-bound American Airlines flight, charged the cockpit, broke the flight controls, and then tried to jump out of the cockpit window.

The airline ended up dispatching a replacement aircraft and crew within around four hours, so passengers ended up enduring a roughly eight hour delay. What an incident this must have been…

What do you make of this incident?

Conversations (18)
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  1. Melissa Duffy Guest

    Now that this has happened the airlines need to put in place new protocols so that no one other than the pilots can enter and be in the cockpit in the future.
    The most cost effective, obvious measure is to 'secure the flight control doors with the pilots inside prior to people boarding and after landing until passengers have all deplaned.
    Sad state of affairs but necessary.

  2. Giovany Lopez Guest

    I left Miami to visit San Pedro three weeks ago, it was also American Airlines, they made all type of excuses , at one point after two hours we got on the track, more delays and ended up returning because we burnt too much fuel sitting around so in total we ended up being delayed for about 4 hours and someone got kicked off because they became impatient and started arguing with the flight attendants...

    I left Miami to visit San Pedro three weeks ago, it was also American Airlines, they made all type of excuses , at one point after two hours we got on the track, more delays and ended up returning because we burnt too much fuel sitting around so in total we ended up being delayed for about 4 hours and someone got kicked off because they became impatient and started arguing with the flight attendants :| . My dad says it could be the fact that Honduras is a 3rd world country and U.S doesn’t care too much for those flights. Honduras is a beautiful country with humble people and amazing food, yes it’s a 3rd world country so it has its dangers so be careful and do research and have a tour guide if possible.

  3. Sharon Logan Guest

    Edgar, this did not happen in the USA.

    1. Giovany C Guest

      It actually did, I just came back from Honduras and the flight to leave Miami was delayed by exactly 4 hours for who knows what reasons smh

  4. John Guest

    Wow! He was so looking forward to a vacation in Miami, but when he heard AOC was in town he just lost it cause his holiday was completely ruined before it even started!

  5. John sousa Guest

    AA should have rolled out a gallos and hung the son of a bitch….

  6. VX_Flier Guest

    @Jordan - you need to write a “Things I’ve Seen” guest article one of these days. Sounds like it would be great to read.

    Umm… which Oscar-winning actress, btw?

    1. Leyanne Guest

      I agree!! I SOOOO want to know more about @Jordan's experiences!

  7. Jordan Gold

    People misbehaving on flights, has been a thing forever. The odd incident here and there. Yesterday's AA incident is just a continuation of this era.

    Babies being slapped by strangers, booze fueled antics, sex in J class, Madonna doing yoga in the aisle of VS J class. Businesswoman screaming at bratty kids on VS J class, Oscar-winning actress flashing her area on VS J class (wow, I have seen a lot on Virgin) haha. My...

    People misbehaving on flights, has been a thing forever. The odd incident here and there. Yesterday's AA incident is just a continuation of this era.

    Babies being slapped by strangers, booze fueled antics, sex in J class, Madonna doing yoga in the aisle of VS J class. Businesswoman screaming at bratty kids on VS J class, Oscar-winning actress flashing her area on VS J class (wow, I have seen a lot on Virgin) haha. My favourite, was being stuck in a snowstorm at JFK airport. Bryan Adams softly played his guitar behind me, as he sang to his partner at 3 am while we waited for dei-icing and pushback.

    Those were the norms ;-)

    Well, a noticeable uptick since early 2020, and full out weekly and multiple times a week since 2021.

    I'm suuuuuuuure it's just a coincidence that the majority have to hold on to, otherwise, a very uncomfortable question comes up that no one wants to ask, and for sure, no one wants the answer to.

    MIA to/from - it will continue. No point getting into it on here.

  8. Trey Guest

    why do more than half (probably closer to 3/4) of these bizarre airplane incidents involve someone heading to/coming from MIA?

  9. Santastico Guest

    San Pedro Sula and Miami on the same article says everything.

    1. Irma Escobar Guest

      Says what?!! This is the 1st time something like that happens in that route… idiot comment

    2. Santastico Guest

      Go get informed. San Pedro Sula is one of worst places anyone can visit in Latam. No wonder why it is one of the most dangerous cities in the world. Crime and corruption go hand in hand there. BTW, I've been there a couple times for business and do not recommend it to anyone. As for Miami, if you do some research as someone mentioned here in the comments, the majority of crazy incidents with...

      Go get informed. San Pedro Sula is one of worst places anyone can visit in Latam. No wonder why it is one of the most dangerous cities in the world. Crime and corruption go hand in hand there. BTW, I've been there a couple times for business and do not recommend it to anyone. As for Miami, if you do some research as someone mentioned here in the comments, the majority of crazy incidents with people on airplanes or airports have Miami as origin or destination. See a trend?

  10. Steve Diamond

    "I’m also not sure I follow the logic of them apparently trying to prevent the man from jumping out of the cockpit window?"

    Because you dont want someone psychotic running on an active apron and runway where they can cause serious damage and threaten lives. Plus you dont know if he has any sort of weapon or bomb on him.

  11. Rob Guest

    Cocaine is a helluva drug.

  12. George Romey Guest

    Of course it had to be Miami. I'm little confused. Did the passenger run down to the aircraft before boarding commenced? If so, why wasn't the door to the jetbridge closed.

    1. Charles Member

      Edgar, this happened in Honduras according to the article.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Trey Guest

why do more than half (probably closer to 3/4) of these bizarre airplane incidents involve someone heading to/coming from MIA?

3
Edgar Guest

Such things can only happen in USA

1
Jordan Gold

People misbehaving on flights, has been a thing forever. The odd incident here and there. Yesterday's AA incident is just a continuation of this era. Babies being slapped by strangers, booze fueled antics, sex in J class, Madonna doing yoga in the aisle of VS J class. Businesswoman screaming at bratty kids on VS J class, Oscar-winning actress flashing her area on VS J class (wow, I have seen a lot on Virgin) haha. My favourite, was being stuck in a snowstorm at JFK airport. Bryan Adams softly played his guitar behind me, as he sang to his partner at 3 am while we waited for dei-icing and pushback. Those were the norms ;-) Well, a noticeable uptick since early 2020, and full out weekly and multiple times a week since 2021. I'm suuuuuuuure it's just a coincidence that the majority have to hold on to, otherwise, a very uncomfortable question comes up that no one wants to ask, and for sure, no one wants the answer to. MIA to/from - it will continue. No point getting into it on here.

1
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