Passenger prompting emergency landing at Bush airport was frightened
Tuesday, 10 July 2012 10:32
An 86-year-old man whose "disruptive" behavior prompted a Spirit Airlines pilot to make an emergency landing at Bush Intercontinental Airport Sunday is partially blind, speaks only French and became frightened on the red-eye flight to Florida, officials said.
Sirit Airlines plane, An 86-year-old man whose "disruptive" behavior
prompted a Spirit Airlines pilot to make an emergency landing
The incident sparked a 12-hour layover at the airport, where the budget airline does not yet run flights - though it is scheduled to start this fall. Passengers waited two hours on the tarmac and another 10 in the airport.
On Monday, airline officials said they were offering passengers a full refund and a $100 future flight credit.
"We understand that this was an inconvenience for our customers," airline spokeswoman Misty Pinson said. "But the safety of our customers is always top priority."
The man, whose identity Houston police did not release, was one of 129 passengers aboard the flight departing Los Angeles at about 10:30 p.m. Saturday.
At some point on the flight, the man's "disruptive" behavior prompted the pilot to land, Pinson said.
"It had escalated to the point that for the safety of all on board the captain felt that he needed to divert," she said.
Houston police spokesman Kese Smith said the man was "swinging his hands at other passengers as they walked past his seat."
In Houston, the man told an interpreter that he had become afraid on the flight. Officials contacted his son in Los Angeles who flew to Houston to accompany his father. The man will not be charged with a crime, Smith said.
Meanwhile, the flight's other passengers waited. Pinson said that since the airline does not currently fly to Houston, "we coordinated resources with the airport and deplaned customers as quickly as possible and sent another plane as quickly as possible." She noted that they served free snacks and drinks.
Twelve hours after landing in Houston, the flight departed, arriving in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., at about 7:30 p.m. Sunday - more than 13 hours after its scheduled arrival.
Last week, the Florida-based airline announced it will begin service in the fall between Bush Intercontinental and Dallas-Fort Worth international airports.(Chron.com/AC)