A New York woman, Kelly Pichardo, 32, was sentenced to four months in prison after causing a disturbance while flying first class last year. On a flight from Dallas to Los Angele in February 2021, federal prosecutors say, she assaulted a flight attendant, which prompted the airline to land the plane in Phoenix. She was arrested along with the woman she was traveling with, reports the Wall Street Journal. Pichardo pleaded guilty to interfering with flight crew members. After serving her four-month long sentence, she will be on supervised release for three years. Pichardo is expected to pay American Airlines more than $9,100 in restitution fees.
It’s a violation of federal law to assault, intimidate or threaten flight crews or flight attendants with violence. The Federal Aviation Administration has reported an uptick in unruly and dangerous behaviors by travelers.
“There is a line between boorish behavior on an airplane and criminal activity, and the defendant clearly crossed it,” said U.S. Attorney Gary Restaino. “First class passengers are not immune from prosecution.” The FAA initiated more than 1,000 investigations last year, and as of September 6, it has already started 663 investigations this year.