A 52-year-old man has pleaded guilty to interfering with flight crew on an American Airlines flight to Washington DC, after he threatened a flight attendant with what appeared to be a ‘shank’ and tried to open an emergency exit mid-flight.
Juan Remberto Rivas entered his guilty plea before a federal court on Tuesday and now faces a maximum sentence of up to 20 years imprisonment, as well as a $200,000 fine.
The February 13, 2022, incident went viral after it emerged that one of the flight attendants had managed to subdue Rivas by hitting him over the head with a metal coffee pot before passengers piled in the help restrain him for the remainder of the flight.
Rivas had boarded American Airlines flight 1775 in Los Angeles without incident, but as the flight went on, he started to cause a disturbance before going to the front of the aircraft and arguing with one of the crew members.
During this argument, Rivas admitted to grabbing some plastic silverware and placing it in his shirt sleeve to appear as if he had a shank, which he threatened the flight attendant with.
Rivas then grabbed a small bottle of Champagne and tried to break the bottle on the counter before lunging at the emergency exit and trying to lift the handle.
It was at this point that the flight attendant grabbed the metal coffee pot and whacked it over Rivas’ head, leaving a dent in the pot. The flight was then diverted to Kansas City, where local law enforcement took Rivas into custody.
Rivas will be sentenced at a later date.
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.