New details have emerged of a disturbing incident onboard an American Airlines flight last week when passengers were ordered to place their hands on top of their heads for the last hour of the flight because of what was described at the time as a “potential security threat”.
On Wednesday, Anthony Kevin Trujillo, 27, of California appeared in federal court charged with interfering with flight crew members after falsely claiming that one of the flight attendants on the July 7 flight had a bomb in his bag before going on to fight with two air marshals.
Following the altercation onboard American Airlines flight AA2289 from Los Angeles to Miami, the other passengers were ordered by the Captain to stop filming anything on their cellphones and to place their hands on top of their heads for the last 45 to 60 minutes of the flight.
On arrival, passengers were initially kept on the plane before being escorted to a separate part of the terminal building away from other passengers while the plane was searched and inspected by law enforcement. Unsurprisingly, passengers onboard the flight said they had been left “traumatized” by what had happened.
In an affidavit filed in Miami federal court, prosecutors claim Trujillo initially said he had heard a gas leak onboard the flight before accusing one of his seatmates of hiding components of a bomb in her socks.
“Trujillo then accused a flight attendant of carrying improvised explosive device components in his bag and tried to wrestle the bag away from him,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office alleges.
Two air marshals who happened to be on the flight responded to the commotion and initially took Trujillo’s concerns seriously and checked the flight attendant’s bag. Once they realized there weren’t any improvised explosive devices onboard the flight they tried to calm Trujillo whose behavior was becoming “increasingly disturbing”.
“Despite this, Trujillo got up from his seat and charged down the passenger aisle, towards the front of the airplane,” the affidavit alleges. “The air marshals stopped Trujillo and, after some resistance from him, eventually secured Trujillo in an area away from other passengers.”
“For about the last hour of the flight, pursuant to the captain’s instructions, all passengers had to keep their hands raised above their heads.”
If convicted, Trujillo faces a maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment.
A spokesperson for American Airlines said the carrier had apologized to passengers for “any inconvenience” that was caused. “Safety and security is our top priority and we apologize to our customers,” a statement from the airline continued.
Photo Credit: Markus Mainka / Shutterstock.com
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.