After a confrontation between a passenger and the crew, a Delta flight was not only diverted, but escorted back by F-16 fighter jets.
This Los Angeles bound flight left San Antonio, but had to divert to Tuscon. The passenger was causing trouble earlier in the flight and kept arguing with the crew.
Andrea Constantini, another passenger, said the man was asked several times to go back to his seat, but didn’t comply.
“They asked several times and he was acting weird and everybody started getting a little nervous and uncomfortable and I think she realized that something could happen,” Constantini said.
It is unclear why the flight needed the F-16 escort. But a passenger on flight took some cell phone footage.
Fighter jet escorts usually happen when it is believed there is a terrorist threat or if they believe there is a bomb on the plane.
There’s a great thread on Quora about the different situations in which a plane would get an escort, and when a plane might actually be shot down:
We don’t force aircraft to land unless the threat is obvious and credible. On 9/11, even if we’d been able to get fighters up and onto either of the airliners that hit the World Trade Center, I doubt anyone would have considered the threat more than that of a commandeered aircraft soon to be taken out of our airspace or landed somewhere with a list of demands. The actual outcome would have been unthinkable until after it happened. Now that it has, strategic surprise has been lost and this scenario has had to be considered and prepared for. The act of “forcing down” itself depends upon the pilot of the intercepted aircraft not having a death wish. If they do, about all that can be done is to prevent them from fulfilling it at a location of their choosing.
From everything I’ve seen and read, passengers only report that he was slurry, not listening to crew instructions, and trying to grab drinks. The people near him did not report him making threats at all, but he could have said something to the flight attendant that was not heard by anyone else.
The FBI hasn’t commented on it either, which makes me think there is some sort of investigation going on.
What are your thoughts?