AirTran Airways issued today the following statement regarding its flight 39 scheduled from Atlanta, Georgia, to San Francisco, California:
AirTran Airways flight 39, a Boeing 737-700 aircraft carrying 132 passengers and 5 crew members pushed back from the gate at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport at 9:48 am EST and departed at 10:36 am EST headed to San Francisco International Airport with a scheduled arrival time of 12:40 pm PST.
During the flight, a male passenger, allegedly intoxicated, became disruptive and irate with a flight attendant. The passenger refused to follow flight crew instructions to take his seat and then proceeded to lock himself in the aft lavatory.
The male passenger was traveling from Richmond, Virginia, to San Francisco, California, with a connection in Atlanta, Georgia.
Out of an abundance of caution, the captain elected to divert the aircraft to the nearest airport, which was Colorado Springs Municipal Airport in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The captain requested the local law enforcement officials meet the aircraft on arrival in Colorado Springs.
The plane, escorted by two F-16 fighters dispatched under the direction of Continental US North American Aerospace Defense Command Region (NORAD), landed safely in Colorado Springs at 11:55 am MST and taxied to a remote location of the airport where law enforcement officials detained the individual in question.
The aircraft was then repositioned to a gate where it was searched by canine teams. The FBI is on the scene and is overseeing the law enforcement response. AirTran Airways is cooperating fully with the law enforcement officials.
Flight 39 has been cleared for departure to San Francisco and will continue the flight.
“It is an unfortunate and rare event when flight crew instructions are not followed. AirTran Airways fully supports our flight crew in performing their assigned duties, and we admire the professionalism the flight 39 crew showed in this case.”