An Aeromexico flight intended to take off from Guadalajara and land in San Francisco International Airport was diverted to Oakland temporarily. Passengers were forced to sit on the tarmac for over three hours without air conditioning. Tensions became so high that angry passengers began demanding to be let off the aircraft and several individuals began calling 911 when flight staff refused their requests.
The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office responded to the incident after multiple reports of a chaotic scene. Several passengers on the plane frantically called 911 and told operators that they were being held against their will, while the pilot called authorities to report the unruly and angry passengers. According to the pilot’s statement, some of the people onboard were threatening to open the aircraft’s emergency doors to escape the situation.
While police attempted to sort out the situation, several passengers took to social media to explain their situation. Media news outlets quickly picked up on the story of the passengers being held captive on the plane without air conditioning, water, food or information. Several individuals told interviewers that the crew members refused to answer their questions and literally hid behind curtains for several hours.
Despite the stories of the unhappy customers, police arrived and arrested two of the male passengers. Both were charged with interfering with a flight crew and aircraft. After a short investigation, police decided to release the suspects, but they explained that the FBI will be looking into whether charges should be pursued or not. Sargent Ray Kelly of the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office explained how “the passenger bill of rights does not apply to international flights,” but he also confirmed that the airline could have made the decision to allow the passengers off the flight. It’s unclear why they chose not to.
Eventually, the police worked alongside U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents and flight staff to unload the passengers from the plane at Oakland. One of the passengers was taken to the hospital after having difficulty breathing. Passengers were provided with the option to either fly from Oakland to San Francisco or use alternative transportation.