TEGUCIGALPA (NYTIMES) – Of the thousands of cancellations and delays of airline flights in the past month, most have been caused by Covid-19 outbreaks or perilous weather. But a flight from Honduras to Miami on Tuesday (Jan 11) was delayed for a more novel reason – a passenger stormed the cockpit and apparently tried to climb out a window.
While an American Airlines flight was boarding at Ramon Villeda Morales International Airport in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, the passenger rushed into the open cockpit and “caused damage to the aircraft,” the airline said in a statement Tuesday night.
A video posted on Twitter by a man who appeared to have been at the airport showed that the passenger may have been trying to exit the plane through a cockpit window.
Crew members intervened before local authorities apprehended the man, American Airlines said.
“We applaud our outstanding crew members for their professionalism in handling a difficult situation,” the statement said.
It was unclear what the man’s motive was. American Airlines referred further questions to the local authorities, which did not respond to emails or phone calls Tuesday night.
The episode came at a time when airlines have seen a surge in violent behaviour by passengers, many of whom who are protesting mask mandates.
Regardless of motivation, the passenger’s actions Tuesday forced his fellow passengers to wait around seven hours for a new aircraft.
The flight was originally scheduled to take off just before 3pm Honduras time, but American Airlines said in its statement that the flight was set to depart around 9.30pm instead. The airline’s website showed an even later departure time: 10.40pm.
The passengers were expected to land in Miami around 2am Wednesday, according to the airline’s website.
The delay came just as thousands of flights have been disrupted during the holiday travel rush. Between Friday and Sunday, around 5,000 flights were cancelled, according to FlightAware, a data tracking service.
The list of woes is long for airlines, which over the pandemic have dealt with travel slowdowns, passenger violence and workers calling in sick at high rates as the Omicron variant has spread at an astonishing speed.