2 passengers arrested after threatening to open jet's doors on flight delayed hours in Oakland

After a diverted Aeromexico flight sat on a tarmac for at least three hours, two passengers "became unruly" and law enforcement was called.
Image: Aeromexico plane diverted to Oakland
An Aeromexico plane headed for San Francisco International Airport from Guadalajara was diverted due to fog to Oakland International Airport Thursday afternoon, officials said.NBC News

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By Doha Madani

Two airline passengers were arrested Thursday for threatening to open a jet's doors after their flight was delayed for hours at the Oakland International Airport.

An Aeromexico flight from Guadalajara that was bound for San Francisco was diverted to Oakland on Thursday at about 10:30 a.m. local time (1:30 p.m. ET) and sat on a tarmac for at least three hours, a spokesman for the Alameda County Sheriff's Office told NBC News.

"Two passengers wanting to exit the aircraft became unruly, at which time the pilot contacted law enforcement," the Oakland airport said in a statement.

Passengers were not offered food or water during the delay, according to a report from NBC-affiliate KNTV.

Aeromexico, which is based in Mexico City, could not immediately be reached for comment.

"By that point passengers became fed up with waiting," sheriff's Sgt. Ray Kelly told NBC News. "There were several passengers who started to voice their frustration."

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One man in particular threatened to open the plane door and activate emergency exit equipment, Kelly said.

One female passenger who complained of respiratory issues was taken to a local hospital, authorities said.

The jet was diverted to Oakland as a result of heavy fog conditions, and the pilot waited at the Oakland airport for clearance to continue the flight to San Francisco, Kelly said.

Aeromexico said in a statement that because its airline has no operations at the Oakland airport, "special authorizations from the local airport authorities had to be requested to disembark the passengers."

It was while these procedures were underway that the two passengers caused a disruption, the airline said, adding that once the flight had the permits it needed, "the passengers were able to disembark."

At some point after the arrests, the jet taxied to a gate and passengers were taken through to customs, the Oakland airport said.

The sheriff's office tweeted Thursday evening that the two passengers who had been arrested were released and that other passengers had received food and refreshments.

The airport said in its statement, "Decisions about awaiting clearance to land at the original destination airport or deplaning at the diversion airport are at the discretion of the airline."

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced in 2017 expanded protections for passengers by limiting tarmac delays to four hours for international flights of U.S. and foreign airlines, according a press release.

"Carriers must also ensure that passengers stuck on the tarmac are provided adequate food and water after two hours, as well as working lavatories and any necessary medical treatment," the release said.

The Department of Transportation did not immediately respond to a request for comment from NBC News.