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Man on Tampa flight threatened to ‘take this plane down,’ police say

Police say Shail Nitin Patel, 29, was intoxicated when he began yelling and cursing at other passengers.
 
This screen grab of a video posted on X shows a man, right, causing a disturbance on an American Airlines flight that was preparing to leave Tampa International Airport on Tuesday. The man, Shail Nitin Patel, 29, was taken off the plane and arrested after authorities say he threatened to “take this plane down."
This screen grab of a video posted on X shows a man, right, causing a disturbance on an American Airlines flight that was preparing to leave Tampa International Airport on Tuesday. The man, Shail Nitin Patel, 29, was taken off the plane and arrested after authorities say he threatened to “take this plane down." [ X, formerly known as Twitter ]
Published March 22

A passenger under the influence on an American Airlines flight from Tampa got booted off after he allegedly stated he would “take this plane down,” along with other problematic language.

On Tuesday, Shail Nitin Patel, 29, was aboard American flight 2506 leaving Tampa and heading to Philadelphia when he began causing a scene while intoxicated, much of which was posted in videos on social media that show him using an antisemitic slur and other aggressive language. According to the airline, law enforcement was requested to the aircraft due to the disturbance.

A Hillsborough County arrest affidavit says Patel was “erratically yelling and cursing at the passengers.” While on the plane, Patel said, “F--k you blue-eyed, white devils,” the affidavit read. “I’m going to take this plane down with all you motherf--kers on it.”

He spit on another passenger and hit him in the hand and face, the affidavit said. Patel was slurring his speech and had bloodshot eyes that paired with a “strong odor” of an alcoholic beverage on his breath, the affidavit said.

Passengers on the plane detained Patel until law enforcement could handcuff him and place him under arrest. Patel was charged with three misdemeanors: disorderly intoxication and two counts of battery.

The flight was delayed 30 minutes because of Patel’s outburst. He is scheduled to appear in a Tampa courtroom for an arraignment on April 1.

The trend in unruly passengers on airplanes has continued even as the pandemic restrictions on travelers have loosened.

In February, a fight broke out midair on a Southwest Airlines flight to Hawaii. Not too long after, the Department of Transportation reiterated its stance on unruly passengers on social media. In January, another passenger allegedly assaulted an American Airlines flight attendant and kicked a police officer in the groin, forcing pilots to divert the flight, court documents show.

But most notable among recent outbursts was a Dallas woman who went viral for an altercation with another passenger and demanded to get off an American Airlines flight in July. She was later banned from the Fort Worth-based airline.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, there have been 411 reports of unruly passengers in 2024 as of Sunday. Last year, there were 2,075 reports of unruly passengers on U.S. flights.

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