Woman's smoking diverts flight
Her 'meltdown' delays a direct flight from Cincinnati to Honolulu
A woman in her 20s allegedly caused a ruckus yesterday after being caught smoking in the lavatory of a Delta Air Lines jet en route to Honolulu, causing the flight to be diverted to San Francisco.
The woman was given oxygen and was taken to a hospital by ambulance after the plane landed. It was not clear whether she would face criminal charges. It is a federal crime to smoke on a commercial flight.
A Honolulu doctor who treated her during the flight said the woman appeared to be suffering an anxiety attack.
The Delta flight landed in Honolulu three hours late.
JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
Delta Airlines Flight 511 passengers waited at Honolulu Airport's baggage claim area yesterday. A woman who caused a commotion aboard the flight from Cincinnati forced the plane to stop in San Francisco, where she was taken to a hospital. CLICK FOR LARGE
A woman in her 20s, allegedly caught smoking in the lavatory of a Delta Air Lines jet en route to Honolulu, was treated for anxiety by a Honolulu doctor during the flight, which was diverted to San Francisco.
Passengers on Delta Flight 511, a nonstop trip from Cincinnati to Honolulu, told differing versions of what happened yesterday while flying over the Pacific Ocean nearly 200 miles off the California coast before the plane turned around and landed in San Francisco.
Passenger Elizabeth Oglesby of Atlanta told the Associated Press the woman had "a complete meltdown freakout."
"She appeared out of her mind. Upset, belligerent," Oglesby said. "He threatened to handcuff her if she didn't calm down. At that point she hit him in the chest."
But Maj. Gerard Antoine, an Army physician at Tripler Army Medical Center, told the Star-Bulletin, "I never got any of that." Antoine came forward when the pilot asked if a doctor was on board to assist with a medical emergency.
He said the woman, about 24 years old, appeared to be having an anxiety attack.
"She complained of shortness of breath and chest pains," he said, but said she was "not belligerent and very cooperative."
Antoine calmed the woman and gave her oxygen. He said it was unlikely she was overdosing on drugs and did not learn what happened before or after his treatment of her.
But passenger Harry Isokane, 74, of New York said: "She was very wobbly. She was very unstable. She could hardly walk. You know she overdosed."
The woman was given oxygen and was taken to the hospital by ambulance after the plane landed.
Officials with the Transportation Security Administration and Federal Aviation Administration did not release the name of the passenger and it was not clear whether she would face criminal charges. It's a federal crime to smoke on a commercial flight.
Delta spokeswoman Chris Kelly said the Boeing 767 landed safely at about 1 p.m. and resumed its flight about an hour later. The plane arrived in Honolulu about three hours late.
Some passengers gave statements to the FBI when the plane landed in San Francisco.
One Hawaii man, who gave a statement but asked not to be named, said, "Basically, she looked like she was going through a psychotic episode."
"The airline pilot took some drugs away from her," he said. "She said she took them for anxiety or something to that effect. The pilot said, 'No, I'm not giving it back to you.'"
Barbara Kingery, 50, of Cincinnati said a passenger across the aisle from her said she saw the woman taking "a bunch of pills" while waiting in the lavatory line.
Flight attendants caught her smoking in the restroom, and "told her how dangerous it was, and she went back and did it again," she said, adding that the woman disarmed the lavatory smoke alarm.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.