During a recent flight from Houston to Rio de Janeiro, two U.S. Federal Air Marshals were requested to assist the crew with an unruly passenger. According to crew reports, an intoxicated female passenger tried to start serving herself more alcohol from the galley.
The air marshals approached the lady, and she struggled with them. At one point, she bit a marshal, so she was handcuffed and placed under arrest.
Upon arrival at Rio de Janerio airport, the duo attempted to turn the woman over to local authorities, but they themselves ended up being arrested for assault. As it turns out, the woman they had arrested is the wife of a prominent Brazilian judge.
Their passports were confiscated, and the two were not permitted to leave the country. At this point, they could have waited for the diplomats behind the scenes to fix the situation, but they opted to flee the county on alternative travel documents.
According to CNN, the duo believed the charges against them were retaliatory and decided it was in their best interests to leave the country as soon as possible. Arresting the marshals violates the Tokyo Convention – which allows aircraft operators on international flights to restrain passengers “who are committing or about to commit an offence liable to interfere with the safety of persons or property on board or who are jeopardising good order and discipline“.
The whole incident will probably be fixed by diplomats at the State Department, and I’m sure someone will be taking a very close look at the Judge behind the charges so see whether they were warranted or whether someone overstepped their rights. Unfortunately for the women – being the wife of a powerful judge does not mean you have a free pass to create havoc on a plane.