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Flying Fiascos: Five Recent Airline Incidents That Might Make You Rethink Your Travel Plans

Passengers wait in line to check in for their flights at Southwest Airlines service desk at LaGuardia Airport, Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2022, in New York. InternationalIndiaAfricaSeveral stories about harrowing incidents while flying made headlines over the weekend. Rather than flood your feed with short accounts of each, here’s an easily digestible list that might have you thinking twice about your next travels.

Passenger Allegedly Tries to Stab Flight Attendant, Jump Out of Emergency Exit Door

During a Sunday flight from Los Angeles to Boston, a United Airlines passenger was arrested after allegedly trying to open the emergency exit door and trying to stab a flight attendant with a broken spoon.Francisco Severo Torres, 33, had to be subdued by fellow passengers and the flight crew after he, according to police, attempted to attack a flight attendant who confronted him about tampering with an emergency exit door.Around 45 minutes into the flight, an alarm was set off, alerting the flight crew that the emergency exit door between the coach and first-class cabins had been disengaged.© AP Photo / Elaine ThompsonFILE – In this April 23, 2013 file photo, a United Airlines jet departs in view of the air traffic control tower at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in SeattleFILE – In this April 23, 2013 file photo, a United Airlines jet departs in view of the air traffic control tower at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in SeattleThe flight attendants re-engaged the door’s lock and one of them said he saw Torres by the door and thought he may have been tampering with it. When confronted, Torres asked the flight attendant if the plane had cameras that would show him tampering with the door. He then allegedly attacked the flight attendant before being subdued by passengers and the flight crew.Torres was arrested when the plane landed in Boston, Massachusetts, and has been charged with one count of interference and attempted interference with flight crew members and attendants using a dangerous weapon – that charge can result in a life sentence.According to court documents, Torres told police he went to the bathroom to break the spoon and turn it into a weapon because he feared the flight attendant was going to try to kill him and he decided to kill the flight attendant first. He also allegedly told police he wanted to open the emergency exit door so he could jump out.

Passenger Arrested for Carrying Explosive in Luggage

Mark Muffley of Langford, Pennsylvania, was taken into custody by the FBI on Monday after he admitted he knew explosives were in the luggage that he tried to get through security and onto a flight heading from Lehigh Valley International Airport to Orlando, Florida.Muffley allegedly tried to conceal his explosive by putting it in the lining of his bag, which he checked through security. During a routine screen, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) found a circular compound with two fuses and powder concealed in wax paper and plastic wrap. The powder is suspected to be a mix of flash powder and dark granules that are typically used in commercial fireworks. The criminal complaint alleges the device was susceptible to “ignite from heat” and “posed a significant risk” to the aircraft and its passengers.After finding the device, the TSA called Muffley to the security desk but he did not answer their call. He can be seen leaving the airport on security cam footage roughly five minutes later.Security also found a can of butane, a lighter, a pipe with a white powder residue that prosecutors alleged might have been methamphetamine and two GFCI outlets taped together in Muffley’s bag.Security experts told US media that while the device was likely flammable and explosive, it did not appear to be set to go off during flight.Muffley’s court-appointed lawyer asserted the device was modified fireworks. “Although this might be a flashy story because it involves a plane, this is not a situation where there’s any reason to believe that this person had any interest in causing harm to anyone other than lighting fireworks off at a beach in Florida,” Muffley’s lawyer Jonathan McDonald argued in a hearing on Thursday.However, prosecutor Sherri Stephan told the court it didn’t matter if Muffley intended to use the device as a firework after arriving in Florida.

“It was an explosive. It was in his bag. He checked it into the airport,” Stephan told the judge. “Knowledge of the fact this man would go to an airport with those things in his suitcase and attempt to have them placed on an aircraft is nothing short of astonishing,” Stephan said.

Southwest Flight Makes Emergency Landing in Cuba After ‘Bird Strike’ Causes Cabin to Fill With Smoke

A Southwest flight departing Havana, Cuba, had to turn around after its engine and nose “experienced bird strikes” shortly after take-off, Southwest said in a statement given to US media.The flight was headed towards Fort Lauderdale, Florida, but had to return to Cuba just minutes after takeoff because smoke was filling the cabin, presumably caused by damage done to one of its engines after the “bird “strike.”Cuban air officials said that the 147 passengers were safely returned to José Martí International Airport in Havana. A video recorded by one of the passengers was shared on social media.

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It shows a chaotic scene with customers struggling to breathe in the smoke-filled cabin. Oxygen masks can be seen dangling from above some seats while passengers sitting in places without deployed oxygen masks can be seen covering their faces with clothes.

Passengers Vomit, Pass Out While Landing Aborted Amid Turbulence

A Southwest flight aborted a landing at Raleigh-Durham International Airport and was diverted to Myrtle Beach because of extreme turbulence on Friday night. The plane had reportedly descended to 1,350 feet before calling off the landing and being diverted.At least two witnesses told media outlets that they observed some of the passengers vomiting and at least one passed out from a panic attack during the botched landing.After landing in Myrtle Beach, the passengers were held on the plane as it sat on the tarmac for over two hours, but that wasn’t when the inconvenience ended. The passengers were released only to find themselves abandoned in a closed airport with no food or services available.The airport was so empty, one witness told CBS 17, that a group from the flight decided to go behind a closed bar and started “pouring themselves drinks — because there was no security,” at the airport at that time.Around 1 a.m. local time, an empty plane arrived at the airport and brought the passengers to their original destination. But, according to at least one witness, Southwest didn’t compensate its customers for the inconvenience: “They didn’t offer us meal vouchers or anything.”

Two United Planes Touch While Being Towed

Airline drama is not always exclusive to events in the air. On Monday, two United Airlines Boeing 757s collided on the runway at Logan International Airport near Boston, Massachusetts. The collision caused both planes to be taken out of service while the damage was evaluated, United Airlines said in a statement.No injuries were reported, and the incident occurred while one plane was parked at a gate and the other was being towed away when its right wing struck the tail of the parked plane.Passengers on both planes had to be deboarded and their flights were rescheduled for later in the day.AmericasProbe Launched After FedEx Cargo Plane Nearly Collides With Southwest Flight in Texas6 February, 21:13 GMTThe incident is under investigation and comes after several close calls with plane collisions in recent months. Last week, a JetBlue plane, also landing at Logan, nearly collided with a charter jet that was using an intersecting runway. There have also been recent close calls at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, Austin-Bergstrom International Airport in Texas, and one off the coast of Hawaii that saw a United Airlines flight nearly plunge into the ocean, recovering less than 800 feet from the surface.


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