An early morning redeye flight out of Pensacola, Fla., was forced to turn around shortly after takeoff Friday when a woman who was denied a bigger seat claimed she was in medical distress, police said.
An American Eagle flight from Pensacola to Miami returned to the airport around 6:26 a.m. Friday, within an hour of takeoff, because a passenger was in need of medical assistance, according to a statement from American Airlines, the United States carrier's parent company.
The woman initially refused to deplane, prompting a complete evacuation of the aircraft, but authorities and the pilot were eventually able to convince her to exit the plane.
Pensacola Police Department public information officer, Mike Wood, explained the woman was taken into custody "due to some of the things she said" during her exchanges with the flight crew and police.
The passenger was held by police under the Baker Act, which allows officials to detain those suffering from mental illness who may pose a danger to themselves or others. "All passengers deplaned normally at the gate through the main boarding door and onto the jet bridge".
The incident happened aboard an American Airlines flight that departed Pensacola for Miami at 5:43 a.m., according to the Pensacola Police Department.
According to NBC News, authorities were called to the scene after the plane landed, and the woman admitted she had made up the medical condition in order to get a better seat.
While Wood speculates that police might not file charges against her because no crime was committed in their presence, he did say that the Federal Aviation Administration or American Airlines could press charges to recover expenses.
'The passenger was subsequently removed by law enforcement and medical personnel, and the flight took off again at 7:41 a.m'. No one was injured.