Passenger melts down before takeoff, invades the cockpit and grounds flight to Miami

By Madeleine Marr

MIAMI — An American Airlines flight to Miami from Ramón Villeda Morales International Airport in Honduras was grounded Tuesday night after chaos erupted in the cockpit.

According to a statement from the airline, the problems occurred during the boarding phase of AA Flight 488 with service from the airport in San Pedro Sula to Miami International Airport.

The armored door to the cockpit was open at the time, though, as with all flights since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, it’s locked before takeoff.

“A customer entered the open flight deck and caused damage to the aircraft,” said the American Airlines statement provided to the Miami Herald. “Crew members intervened and the individual was ultimately apprehended by local law enforcement.”

The flight departed with a replacement aircraft, hours later, at 10:45 p.m., and landed safely in Miami.

“We applaud our outstanding crew members for their professionalism in handling a difficult situation,” the statement concluded.

Video of the incident shared on social media shows the suspect hanging out of the open pilot window, reportedly trying to escape before authorities got to him.

According to Honduran newspaper La Prensa, the passenger was identified as Aaron Christopher Ebanks Fuentes, who was reportedly upset because he was asked to put away his bags.

Fuentes was taken to the La Lima police station, near the airport, the outlet reported. A picture shows him restrained in a wheelchair. The charges have not been released.

An AA spokesman confirmed on Wednesday that the suspect is now banned from the airline: “The passenger has been added to our internal refuse list.”


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