A passenger acting erratically, and craving a cigarette forced two flight diversions in less than 12 hours, authorities say.
An American Eagle flight was diverted to Kansas City International Airport Tuesday, after authorities said the unruly passenger tried to exit the plane in an effort to have a smoke.
Because the New York man didn't actually open the exit door, he was released from law enforcement custody. This was the second time on Tuesday that he was released without charges, after his behavior forced a flight diversion.
The first disruption occurred on a red-eye U.S. Airways flight from Las Vegas to Charlotte. That flight landed in Albuquerque at 1:45 a.m. Tuesday.
Authorities said the passenger wanted to "exit for a smoke." He was shaking the seat in front of him, and apparently tried to light a cigarette.
Police and FBI agents interviewed him, but he was released.
Typically after flight diversions, the original airline declines to allow the passenger to continue ahead.
The New York man, who some passengers said spoke with a Russian-sounding accent, was rebooked onto the American Eagle flight.
The flight took off from Albuquerque International Sunport on Tuesday morning, headed for Chicago O'Hare International Airport. The flight with 63 passengers, and four crew members had to take an unexpected detour to KCI.
And once again, passengers reported that the man had a cigarette in his mouth, and was trying to light it. And just like on the US Airways flight, passengers and authorities said he was agitated and tried to exit the plane to go outside for a smoke.
A federal agent on vacation was on board the flight. That man, and several other passengers helped restrain the passenger.
The flight landed in Kansas City about 11:30 a.m. and took off about an hour later. The authorities interviewed witnesses, and the crew completed paperwork.
The plane later arrived in Chicago.
The man was taken off the plane, and interviewed by authorities in Kansas City. He was released without any charges, and it's not clear what his plans are for leaving Kansas City.
"He was just being obnoxious," one passenger said. "He was being belligerent."
Several passengers said they thought the man appeared to be under the influence.
"My American Airlines flight had to escort an unruly Russian-speaking man off the plane, who was seated in front of me. He wouldn't stay seated, and kept trying to open the exit door to step outside and have a smoke. He had a lighter, and kept trying to light his cig," a woman posted on her Facebook page.
KCTV5's Jonathan Carter contributed to this report.
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