A charge against a woman accused of attempting to breach a plane’s cockpit mid-flight has been dismissed, after she insisted she was simply using the restroom.
Thirty-six-year-old Tiffany Miles was charged with a misdemeanour airport obstruction count after the ordeal during a Washington, DC-bound American Airlines flight on 22 February.
The plane diverted to the Raleigh-Durham International Airport after the flight crew called authorities alleging that Ms Miles tried to breach the cockpit, WRAL reported.
Ms Miles has claimed that she asked for an alcoholic drink to calm her anxiety but was told by a flight attendant that alcohol was not being served. She said there was a confrontation with another flight attendant when she got up to use the restroom, which is in the same direction as the cockpit, before she was asked to return to her seat.
Five minutes later, she said, a flight crew member used zip ties to immobilise her hands and sat her on the back of the aircraft. Ms Miles was arrested after the emergency landing in North Carolina but charges against her have since been dropped.
“After continued investigation regarding the circumstances surrounding the incident and review of eyewitness statements, plus in-depth consultation with the Wake County District Attorney, RDU law enforcement have dismissed the [charge],” airport police told WRAL.
Ms Miles said she told the flight crew that she suffered from anxiety while flying. At some point, she told WRAL, a fellow passenger approached her to “calm her down”.
She added that when she returned to her seat after she was confronted by flight attendants near the plane’s restroom, she reportedly asked them to call police because other passengers were not being polite.
“They put on the zip ties. I was like, ‘what is all this for?’ You guys are treating me like I did something to you, but I was the one being attacked and being threatened and now I feel like my life is in,” Ms Miles told WUSA.
Flight staff then notified air traffic control that there was a “security level threat” and requested an emergency landing.
The FBI Charlotte Field Office said that no further charges are expected against Ms Miles, according to WRAL.
“I know I didn’t do anything wrong, so it’s the same reaction,” Ms Miles told the station.
She said she was more concerned about paying back the $1,000 she borrowed from her mother to post bond.
“I guess I have to speak with my legal team to see how we’re going to handle this … because if no one is charging me now, then what is all the hoopla about?” she told WRAL.
Ms Miles, a teaching assistant, also told the station that she hopes the flight attendant is retrained so similar incidents can be avoided in the future.
In a statement to The Independent, an American Airlines spokesperson said: “American Eagle flight 3444…diverted to Raleigh-Durham (RDU) due to a security concern involving an unruly customer.
“Safety and security are our top priorities, and we thank our customers for their cooperation and our team members for their professionalism in managing a difficult situation.”
Following the incident last week, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) proposed a new requirement to have an additional barrier to the flight deck.
“Last year, we made progress to require new planes to have a second barrier to the flight deck after the rule stalled under the previous administration,” the FAA said in a statement. “We’re working quickly to issue the final rule.”
The FAA will review feedback about the proposed rules during the next two months, before a final decision is made.