Incidents involving unruly passengers onboard flights have continuously risen, with record numbers reported in 2023. We're barely into 2024; another major inflight disruption involving a passenger onboard a JetBlue flight has been making headlines nationwide.
"I am the Devil"
JetBlue Flight 170 is a regularly scheduled service between Fort Lauderdale, Florida (FLL) and Boston, Massachusetts (BOS). On January 4, the flight departed Fort Lauderdale slightly late but with no issue. The aircraft operating was an Airbus A321-200 registered N954JB.
Shortly into the flight, a man whose identity has not been released began making threats to other passengers and telling them he was the devil. He also began punching the woman whom he was traveling with. The situation escalated to a point where flight attendants put the woman in one of the rear lavatories to shelter her from the disturbed individual. The troubled man was reportedly punching the bathroom door to try and get her out.
Because of the disturbance, the flight was diverted to Orlando. Playback data from Flightradar24 shows the aircraft was over the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of South Carolina, when it was forced to turn around and head back towards Florida. It is unclear at the moment why Orlando was chosen as the diversion airport despite the aircraft being closer to major airports like Charleston (CHS), Savannah (SAV), and Jacksonville (JAX).
Nearly two hours after leaving Florida, the aircraft landed back in Florida, where the individual was apprehended. Passengers were deplaned in Orlando with the assistance of law enforcement officials.
Once the passengers deplaned the aircraft in Orlando, they were told that they would have to wait for a new crew to arrive to take them to Boston. JetBlue 170 finally departed Orlando at 2:10 a.m. and arrived in Boston just after 4:30 a.m., almost five hours later than its initial scheduled arrival time. Because this incident was totally outside of JetBlue's control, passengers were told they would not receive compensation for the delay they encountered.
Passengers onboard Flight 170 received an email that said the following:
"This disruption is considered an uncontrollable disruption; meaning it's due to events outside of JetBlue's control (things like Air Traffic Control or weather disruptions) and, unfortunately, does not qualify for customer compensation or reimbursement of out-of-pocket expenses."
Regarding JetBlue disruptions, the carrier has been facing protests from passengers at Santo Domingo's Las Américas Airport in the Dominican Republic. These protests have reportedly been due to ongoing flight delays and overbooking issues. The protests began on January 7 and have escalated to the point where police and military agents have had to get involved. Passengers have been frustrated with the delays and the lack of communication from JetBlue staff at the airport.
It is currently unclear why there have been so many delays and issues involving JetBlue flights out of Santo Domingo. Unfortunately, the incident involving Flight 170 is just another case among the rising numbers of unruly flight passengers. No one knows why flights have received many such incidents in recent months. However, it's important to acknowledge the training of the flight crew, which is specially trained to combat these situations.
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