A woman acting erratically onboard an Alaska Airlines flight from SFO to Chicago on Friday ended up causing the flight to divert to Kansas City out of concern for the safety of the plane's passengers.
Chloe M. DaSilva, 32, was taken into custody in Missouri Friday morning after allegedly making threats and causing a disturbance on a redeye flight out of San Francisco, which was scheduled to fly nonstop to Chicago's O'Hare Airport. As the Department of Justice explains in a release, the pilot diverted and landed in Kansas City around 4:20 a.m. on Friday morning, April 7.
DaSilva had caught the attention of flight attendants even before takeoff, as the New York Times reports, interrupting a safety demonstration to ask when the plane would be taking off. Later in the flight, she reportedly said she could not stay in her assigned seat, and went to the lavatory at the rear of the plane, where she allegedly fell asleep after being heard punching or kicking at the lavatory door. (After she had been in the lavatory for an extended period, flight attendants performed a wellness check, and decided to leave her be.)
Upon waking up, according to flight attendant accounts, DaSilva punched overhead bins and began acting more angrily. According to a federal affidavit, Dasilva "was involved in a confrontation with a male flight attendant, cussing and yelling and threatening to kill him."
DaSilva was then restrained with zip ties, and a mother and child who had been seated in front of her was allowed to change seats.
A passenger said in the affadavit that DaSilva never physically touched any of the flight crew.
According to a statement from the airline, "After landing, the guest was removed from the aircraft by local law enforcement officers. The flight then continued onto Chicago without any further incident."
DaSilva remains in federal custody in the Western District of Missouri, where she had an initial court appearance on Monday. She is being held on suspicion of a felony charge of interference with a flight attendant, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years.
Since the pandemic began, flight attendants have reported numerous incidents of unruly, and sometimes violent passengers onboard domestic flights.
In May 2021, the union representing Southwest Airlines flight attendants filed a formal complaint with the company's CEO following an incident on a Sacramento to San Diego flight in which a passenger allegedly knocked out a flight attendants two teeth.
Lyn Montgomery, the president of Local 556, the flight attendants' union, said in the letter that in just six weeks' time that spring there had been a reported 477 incidents of passenger "misconduct" on Southwest flights alone — with many incidents relating to people being told to wear face masks.
"I’ve been in the industry since 1992, and this is the worst ever," Montgomery said, speaking to the Associated Press at the time. "People seem to be more angry. When they’re asked to do something, compliance seems to be more difficult."