On Saturday afternoon, a Southwest Airlines flight from Houston, Texas to Columbus, Ohio was forced to make an emergency stop in Little Rock, Arkansas.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) confirmed that Southwest Flight 192 landed at Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport at about 3:30 p.m. local time after the crew proclaimed a passenger emergency.
Thanksgiving is undoubtedly one of the busiest travel weekends in the US, and both airlines and passengers are hoping for smooth sailing so everyone can get home in time for the holidays. Unfortunately, due to an “ unruly behavior of a passenger,” the regularly scheduled Southwest Airlines flight WN 192 had routinely departed out of William P Hobby Airport in Houston and was headed for John Glenn Columbus International Airport in Columbus had to land at Little Rock on November 26th.
N8792Q, a brand-new Boeing 737 MAX 8 that had just been delivered to Southwest Airlines earlier this week, flew the flight for the low-cost carrier.
Southwest WN 192 departed at roughly 14:38, and everything seemed normal until the flight was diverted and made an emergency landing at Little Rock Clinton National Airport at about 15:35.
Although there were no problems with the brand-new Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft, an unruly passenger who eyewitnesses claimed was seated towards the back of the plane was the cause of the diversion. The incident was confirmed by Southwest Airlines, which stated:
“Flight 192 traveling from Houston to Columbus followed protocol and safely diverted to Little Rock after our Crew observed unruly behavior from a passenger mid-flight. Local authorities in Little Rock me the flight upon landing and removed the customer from the flight.”
The local authority in Little Rock arrested and removed the unruly passenger from the plane after it was reported that he had physically assaulted another passenger during the flight. Another passenger, allegedly the victim of the suspect’s attack, had to be moved off the narrowbody aircraft to a local hospital, where the person was admitted for observation and treatment.
As the Federal Bureau Of Investigation is currently looking into the alleged assault, the suspect is expected to face federal charges.
The flight left Little Rock around 18:02 and was able to continue to Columbus without further problem.
The passengers and personnel that stayed on board had a very chaotic Saturday.
It’s still a significant problem when passengers act inappropriately on planes and cause delays. 5,981 such incidents were reported to the FAA in 2021. The FAA has already conducted more than 760 investigations after receiving 2,178 reports of unruly passenger behavior.
The attack that occurred on Saturday on a Southwest Airlines flight was the most recent of a growing number of reports of unruly passengers that the FAA had received so far.
Perhaps, even more, concerning is that the attack on Saturday also draws attention to a troubling pattern of rising violence in these situations, reflecting fear among the passengers and flight attendants.
Just in November, Jetblue had to deal with an intoxicated passenger who threatened to push a flight attendant while standing in the aisle and Singapore Airlines had to deal with a passenger who threatened to use his straight-edge razor against the throat of a flight attendant.
Unfortunate flight delays were also experienced by United Airlines, resulting in the hospitalization of one flight crew, several passengers, and one misbehaving passenger. And these are only the incidents that have been widely reported, many flight attendants continue to be assaulted and grabbed violently enough to leave them injured but unreported.
As Christmas approaches, there is a growing concern about how unstable the skies may become because of the bad behavior that can occur on any airline.
Even though being disruptive on a flight can now result in a passenger receiving federal charges, it doesn’t appear that this has done anything to discourage such passengers from engaging in such unruly behavior and creating chaos for both airline staff and other passengers. So, strict laws should be implemented to stop these kinds of incidents on flights.