Passenger threatened flight crew over mask, feds say. Now she owes American Airlines

A woman’s threats on an American Airlines flight headed to Hawaii over wearing a face mask caused the captain to turn the plane around, according to federal prosecutors. Now, she owes the airline thousands of dollars.

Federal prosecutors said Tuesday that 29-year-old Cayla Farris was sentenced to more than three months of time served in connection with her actions plus three years of supervised probation.


Shortly after the plane took off from Phoenix, Arizona, a flight attendant told the woman she needed to wear a mask as part of the plane’s policy in place at the time on Feb. 13, 2022, court documents say.

The woman listened and put on her mask — but then removed it, her plea agreement says.

Afterward, she’s accused of threatening and cursing at the flight crew and other passengers onboard, according to the plea agreement.

“My behavior escalated to the point that air crew members were intimidated and unable to perform their duties,” the plea agreement says.

When she was issued a written warning, the woman threw the paper down “and yelled ‘(expletive) it,’” according to the plea agreement.

The pilot rerouted the flight to Phoenix as a result, prosecutors said.

The woman, 29, of Hawaii, was sentenced to 3.6 months in prison, which is equivalent to time served, on a charge of interference with a flight crew, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona announced in a Nov. 14 news release.

She’s also been ordered to pay American Airlines $38,952 in restitution, prosecutors said.

McClatchy News contacted a federal public defender, who represented her in the case, and American Airlines for comment on Nov. 15 and didn’t receive immediate responses.

The amount the woman owes American Airlines in restitution is related to the flight delay costs that stemmed from her threats, according to prosecutors.

The “disturbance caused several flights to be re-routed to Hawaii,” prosecutors said in the release.

The woman was also sentenced to serve three years of supervised release, according to prosecutors.

During the three-year period, she cannot fly aboard a commercial plane, including any American Airlines flights, unless she gets approval to do so, prosecutors said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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