by Cortney Weil
An “unruly” passenger aboard a recent American Eagle flight wound up on a Greyhound bus after she allegedly tried to open the cockpit door over a “Jack on the rocks.”
On Wednesday afternoon, Tiffany Miles, 36, was one of many passengers on American Eagle Flight 3444, heading from Jacksonville, Florida, to Miles’ hometown of Washington, D.C. During the flight, witnesses said Miles became “unruly” after a flight attendant informed her that there would be no alcohol served on the flight.
“I am already having high anxiety at this moment because we are almost an hour late,” Miles later recalled, “and my shot that I took before was wearing off.”
Miles claimed she had attempted to order the cocktail twice, to no avail. “I have anxiety. So, sometimes I need a cocktail to cool off and calm down,” she insisted.
Reports indicate that after Miles was rebuffed for a drink a second time, she neither cooled off nor calmed down. She supposedly began traipsing about the cabin and, at some point, made a move toward the front of the plane. She claimed she was headed for the restroom, but the flight crew claimed she tried to charge the cockpit.
Miles “tried to breach the cockpit,” one of the flight officers radioed to Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority Police, and she had to be “restrained by the flight crew and other passengers.”
The captain eventually decided to make an emergency landing at the Raleigh-Durham Airport at around 3:30 p.m., and crew members kept Miles in the back of the plane with her hands bound by a zip tie until they landed.
Miles was unrepentant for her extreme behavior thatr disrupted the travel plans of dozens of people.
“I started freaking out because so many people started getting up on me,” Miles later explained. “I started freaking completely out, saying, ‘This is not called for.'”
FBI agents were waiting for Miles when the plane landed, and they did question her. However, she has not yet been charged with any federal crime. She was charged with the local crime of misdemeanor airport obstruction. After a brief detention, she paid the $1,000 bond and hopped a Greyhound bus to D.C. She is scheduled to appear in a Wake County courtroom on March 27.
Miles has been permanently banned from flying out of RDU, she said. She added that she does not want any flight personnel fired for their actions that day, but she does want them to be given additional training.
American Airlines, which owns American Eagle, released a statement following the incident: “Safety and security are our top priorities, and we thank our customers for their cooperation and our team members for their professionalism in managing a difficult situation.”
Reports of the incident even made their way all the way up to the president’s Cabinet. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg tweeted on Wednesday evening that he had been “briefed” about “a Level 4 disruption on board” and the subsequent diversion to Raleigh. The FAA defines a Level 4 disruption as an “attempted or actual breach of the flight deck,” the New York Post said.
“I am allowed to get upset,” Miles asserted. “Getting angry is not against the law.”