American Airlines diverts flight after women allegedly use racial slurs and spit on passenger

The women have been charged with disorderly conduct and placed on American Airlines internal refuse list

Last week an American Airlines flight headed to California was diverted to Phoenix after two women allegedly got into a racially charged argument with another passenger who asked them to stop using hate speech.

According to police, the incident took place on Feb. 24 on Flight 776 from Dallas-Fort Worth to Los Angeles. The airline confirmed in a statement that after arriving in Phoenix, authorities “removed and arrested two individuals for verbally and physically assaulting other customers and flight crew members.”

American Airlines
(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Witnesses later explained to Phoenix police that the two women – now identified as 30-year-old Kelly Pichardo and Leeza Rodriguez, 29 – were using a racial slur when a male passenger interjected. He requested that they stop using the offensive language.

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“Kelly Pichardo became upset and allegedly spit at the male passenger who had asked her to stop using that language,” a police statement read. “The male passenger then began to record the two women and that is when Leeza Rodriguez struck the man’s hand to keep him from recording the incident.”

Both women were placed on American Airlines’ internal refuse list as the investigation continues.  They have each been charged with disorderly conduct with Pichardo also facing additional felony assault charges.

“We continue to investigate this incident and are working directly with impacted customers to ensure their well-being. We thank our crew members for their professionalism in managing a difficult situation,” the airline company said, noting that the aircraft eventually continued to California as planned without further incident.

(Credit: Fototalia)

The “not-so-friendly” skies

The current political climate in the wake of Donald Trump‘s divisive presidency, which was capped by the siege at the Capitol, has made flights – where cross sections of Americans are forced to be in close quarters for hours on an end – a hotbed for discord and heated confrontations.

As we previously reported, back in January, during a flight from Miami to Philadelphia, mayhem ensued after a passenger on a Frontier Airlines flight began coughing and sneezing. When the passenger in front of him complained to the flight attendant, that passenger was told he had the option of driving to his destination.

The passenger who shot the video was in the middle of the packed flight. The passenger in the row right behind him was hacking and sneezing, to the point the passenger requested to move to the back of the plane.

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He moved to the back, and after the plane landed he went to the captain and complained that the man in the row behind him was clearly sick. A flight attendant inserted himself into the conversation, saying, “You have an option. You can drive your car if it’s a problem.” He then added, “You can’t tell people to get off the plane if they got a cough and they’re sneezing.”

The passenger continued to insist that the other passenger was sick and at that point, the flight attendant fired back, “You’re no doctor.”

In the midst of the verbal exchange, a different flight attendant who is not seen in the frame tells the complaining passenger he should be on a no-fly list and the flight attendant who is visible agrees. The captain is mostly silent, looking on as the conversation becomes more tense.

While TMZ reported that all passengers were given a temperature check at the gate prior to boarding, the incident illustrators how tumultuous the “friendly skies” have become of late.

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