Tags: flight | diverted | over | nuts

Flight Diverted Over Nuts: Man's Snack Freakout Gets Him Arrested

By    |   Tuesday, 23 June 2015 03:12 PM

A flight from Rome to Chicago was diverted to Northern Ireland on Saturday after a passenger grew aggressive, demanding more nuts.

According to The Belfast Telegraph, dual Italian-American citizen Jerimiah Mathis Thede, 42, refused to return to his seat 50 minutes into United Airlines flight UA971 “until he was given some nuts or crackers” — even though the seat-belt sign was on.

The crew eventually persuaded Thede to sit down, but when he returned to ask for more nuts shortly after, the flight attendants told him that he had to wait until the rest of the passengers got some.

"I can have as much . . . nuts or crackers as I want,” he reportedly responded.

A crewmember admitted they “felt threatened" by his erratic behavior, The Telegraph noted.

Thede allegedly became aggressive and began walking up and down the aisle, lifting bags and disrupting the 282 passengers and crew. The pilot soon decided to divert the flight’s course and land at Belfast International Airport, causing the flight to dump 50,000 liters of fuel, incur extra costs of $550,000, and delay passengers for 24 hours.

“I applaud the captain and crew for diverting the plane and I understand police had to take some time to remove [the passenger] from the flight, and potentially interview some of the passengers, but then everything was very calm, relaxed almost lackadaisical,” Rick Sliter, a Californian passenger traveling with his mother and children, told NBC News. He said he was given a $70 food voucher at the airport.

“The captain indicated that they had tried extremely hard and called multiple places but that there were not many hotel rooms available,” said Sliter, whose children slept on the floor of the airport during the flight’s layover.

Not all of the passengers remained as upbeat as Sliter, however, as evidenced by their Twitter posts:

The flight "missed takeoff by two minutes because of FAA regulations of pilot times," Billy Saviano, a Chicago passenger, told NBC News, explaining that the crew had exceeded the maximum hours they were allowed to work.

Police took Thede, who resides in Berkeley, California, into custody upon the plane’s landing. He allegedly pointed his middle finger up to a woman holding a camera and told police that there was a “conspiracy against him” on the flight.

Coleraine Magistrates Court charged Thede with endangering the safety of an aircraft, disruptive behavior onboard an aircraft, and assault against a female crewmember during his Monday hearing. Constable William Robinson of Belfast International Airport objected to bail. The defense barrister says that his client “has done nothing wrong and this was an over-reaction by the staff on the plane."

The incident was not the first time a nut problem has derailed a flight. In December, Heather Cho, a Korean Air executive who is also the daughter of the airline's owner, was detained after she got angry that her macadamia nuts were served in a bag instead of on a dish. She was fired and sentenced to one year in prison for the outburst, though a Seoul judge later suspended her sentence.

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A flight from Rome to Chicago was diverted to Northern Ireland on Saturday after a passenger grew aggressive, demanding more nuts.
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Tuesday, 23 June 2015 03:12 PM
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