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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Drunk American Airlines passenger kicked off for saying he would ‘take this plane down’

An American Airlines aircraft taxis at DFW International Airport on Jan. 2.  (Elías Valverde II/The Dallas Morning News/TNS)
By Alexandra Skores Dallas Morning News

A passenger under the influence on an American Airlines flight to Tampa, Florida, got booted off after he allegedly stated he would “take this plane down,” along with other problematic language.

On Tuesday, Shail Nitin Patel, 29, was aboard American flight 2506 leaving Tampa and heading to Philadelphia when he began causing a scene while intoxicated, much of which was posted in videos on social media where he stated an antisemitic slur and other aggressive language. According to American, law enforcement was requested to the aircraft due to the disturbance.

An affidavit from of Hillsborough County in Florida says Patel was “erratically yelling and cursing at the passengers.” While on the plane, Patel called passengers “blue-eyed, white devils,” the affidavit read. “I’m gonna take this plane down with all you … on it.”

He spit on another passenger and hit him in the hand and face, the affidavit said. Patel was slurring his speech and had bloodshot eyes, that paired with a “strong odor” of an alcoholic beverage on his breath, the affidavit said.

Passengers on the plane detained him until law enforcement could handcuff and place Patel under arrest. Patel was charged with three misdemeanors: disorderly intoxication and two counts of battery.

The flight was delayed 30 minutes because of Patel’s outburst. He is scheduled to appear in a Tampa courtroom for an arraignment on April 1.

The trend in unruly passengers on airplanes has continued even as the pandemic restrictions on travelers have loosened.

In February, a fight broke out mid-air on a Southwest Airlines flight to Hawaii. Not too long after, the Department of Transportation reiterated its stance on unruly passengers on social media. In January, another passenger allegedly assaulted an American Airlines flight attendant, forcing pilots to divert the flight and then later kicking a police officer in the groin, court documents show.

But most notable among recent outbursts was a Dallas woman who went viral for an altercation with another passenger and demanded to get off an American Airlines flight in July. She was later banned from the Fort Worth-based airline.

According to the FAA, there have been 411 reports of unruly passengers in 2024 as of March 17. Last year, there were 2,075 reports of unruly passengers on U.S. flights.