WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A Delta Airlines flight from LaGuardia to Palm Beach International Airport had to be diverted to Jacksonville Monday night due to an unruly passenger who lives in Boca Raton.
According to Delta Airlines, Flight 2370 was diverted “due to safety reasons in regard to a passenger issue.”
A report from the Jacksonville Aviation Authority identified the passenger as Amy Caryn Fine, 32, of Boca Raton.
The onboard witness, Aaron Klipin, was seated next to a woman who attempted to recline her seat. The report said that Fine was trying to sleep on a tray table and was struck in the head by the reclined seat.
"This woman who was sitting next to me knitting actually tried reclining her seat back and the woman behind her started screaming and swearing and the flight attendant came over and that just exacerbated what was going on, and then she demanded that the flight land," he said.
Klipin said when a flight attendant was called, the incident became heated and Fine insisted that the flight be diverted to the next stop.
The flight attendants tried to calm down Fine, but they said she continued to be disruptive and loud.
"She started swearing at the flight attendants and then demanding that the flight land. The flight attendants went and spoke with the captain, while somebody was blocking her path to the cabin. Then, a few minutes later, an announcement came on that we were diverting to Jacksonville," Klipin said.
Klipin said that Fine stated something to the effect of, "I don't care about the consequences put this plane down now."
Fine said in the report that she had two dogs die, and she was very emotional.
The flight attendants were concerned for the safety of themselves and the passengers, forcing the flight to be diverted to Jacksonville International Airport.
According to Klipin, a flight attendant stayed next to Fine until the plane landed in Jacksonville at 9:30 p.m., where she was escorted off the plane by police.
Fine was taken to the rental car center area and released without incident, said the Jacksonville Aviation Authority report.
The flight landed in West Palm Beach at 11:13 p.m., said Delta spokesman Morgan Durrant.
This is at least the third time in the last ten days a passenger’s behavior has caused a flight to be diverted.
“The real key is people don’t act appropriately in public. This needs to stop,” explained NewsChannel 5 aviation expert, David Bjellos.
In June, a set of principles were adopted industry-wide at the 70th annual meeting of the International Civil Aviation Organization. The principles clarify an airline’s right of recourse and rights to reclaim costs incurred. Flight diversions can cost airlines up to $200,000. Passengers who cause flight diversions could be held financially responsible for the diversions and expenses for flight crews, fellow passengers and fuel costs.
Bjellos says, in addition to the cost of the diversions, they inconvenience hundreds of other passengers.
He says it’s impossible to penetrate a cockpit door and it’s rare for an angry passenger to become physically dangerous to others in the cabin.
“Airlines always use the term, out of an abundance of caution. Tell me exactly what a screaming woman in the back of an airplane is going to do to disrupt a flight to the point it’s dangerous for the flight and crew? Absolutely nothing,” Bjellos said.
Bjellos suggests passengers inconvenienced by the disruptive passengers file a class action lawsuit. He also says the airlines should create a no-fly list for people who are disruptive.
“You do this once? No fly for a year. Anywhere, anyone, anytime. You do it twice? You don’t fly anymore,” he said.
The best solution, Bjellos says, is for all passengers on all flights to be as courteous as possible to the people around them. They are, after all, people who they will likely never see again after they land.
“The people that we have flying on these airplanes don't have etiquette in their vocabulary. Or their demeanor. It just simply does not exist. They're rude because that’s the way they are at home, that's the way they are at work, and that's the way they are everywhere else and we put them on the airplane,” he said.