A Southwest Airlines flight from Seattle to Sacramento made an emergency landing in Portland because of an unruly passenger who demanded multiple glasses of wine, displayed gang signs he said were for Jesus and frightened the flight crew, according to federal court documents.
The 27-year-old was arrested Tuesday at the Portland International Airport on an accusation of interfering with a flight crew. He was arrested and jailed until Thursday afternoon, when a judge agreed to his pretrial release. His court-appointed attorney, Lisa Hay, declined to comment.
The trouble started even before the flight took off, according to the arrest warrant. FBI agent Jake Green said in an affidavit that the man wanted to sit in a first-class section that didn’t exist and then had to be told three times to stow his luggage.
Once seated, the man pressed the call button, then used expletives while demanding a drink. He was told it would be served later but continued to use foul language and demand drinks, the affidavit says.
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After the plane took off, the man repeatedly hit the call button and said it was an emergency: He wanted three glasses of wine. When the attendant said he could have only one glass at a time, the man asked for her first and last name. After she only gave her first name, the man again swore at her, before adding: “Jesus loves you,” the documents state.
He then demanded to speak with the pilot. When told that was impossible, he repeatedly pressed the call button.
The man began shouting at the passengers watching the commotion and flashed gang signs, the documents say.
The three flight attendants feared the situation would turn violent, and one prepared a pot of boiling water to use against the man if he were to approach the flight deck.
The pilot decided to turn around and land when the plane was 65 miles southeast of Portland. The man told investigators he’d smoked “purple hash” — a strain of marijuana — before the flight but didn’t feel high, according to documents.
He is scheduled to be arraigned March 20.