The woman was subsequently removed from the plane — but not before it was diverted mid-flight

By Hannah Chubb
December 02, 2019 02:37 PM
Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty

A woman on an American Airlines flight from Pensacola, Florida, to Miami was taken into custody after allegedly faking a medical condition to get a bigger seat on the plane, NBC News reports. 

The flight, which took off Friday morning from Pensacola International Airport, was diverted after the pilot called a state of emergency for the woman who claimed to be having trouble breathing. American Airlines confirmed to PEOPLE that the flight originally left at 5:43 a.m. and landed back in Pensacola at 6:26 a.m.

“On Friday, American Eagle flight 3508 returned to Pensacola due to a passenger who requested medical assistance,” American Airlines said in a statement to PEOPLE regarding their regional carrier. “All passengers deplaned normally at the gate through the main boarding door and onto the jet bridge. The passenger was subsequently removed by law enforcement and medical personnel, and the flight took off again at 7:41 a.m.” 

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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. The woman refused to get off the plane at first, but was eventually coerced by authorities and the pilot. 

Mike Wood, a spokesman for the Pensacola Police Department, told USA Today that the woman was then taken into custody under the Baker Act, which allows a person with a mental illness to be involuntarily institutionalized in a mental health treatment facility for up to 72 hours. Wood told USA Today that these precautions were taken “due to some things that [the woman] said.” He did not go into further detail.

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No one has been reported injured during the incident, and no charges have been made against the woman at this time.

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