Kelly Pichardo, 32, of Bronx, New York City, New York, United States traveled first class on an American Airlines flight from Dallas, Texas, USA to Los Angeles, California, USA on February 25, 2021. She was with her fellow Bronx resident Leeza S. Rodriguez, 30.
During the flight, Pichardo and Rodriguez allegedly engaged in unruly and intimidating behavior that caused such a disturbance that the pilot had to divert the flight to Phoenix, Arizona, USA so they could be removed from the plane. Pichardo allegedly spat at a male passenger who asked her and Rodriguez to stop using racial slurs.
Both Pichardo and Rodriguez were arrested at Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix by Phoenix Police Department officers. The two women have been banned from future flights with American Airlines.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation helped the Phoenix Police Department investigate the incident. Pichardo and Rodriguez were indicted for disorderly conduct, including verbally and physically assaulting other customers and flight crew members.
After pleading guilty to interference with flight crew members, Pichardo was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Dominic W. Lanza to four months in prison followed by 36 months of supervised release. The Bronx woman was ordered to pay restitution to American Airlines in the amount of $9,123.00.
Rodriguez has also pleaded guilty. She will be sentenced on November 7, 2022.
American Airlines is headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas. It was founded on April 15, 1926 as American Airways, Inc.
When measured by fleet size, revenue passenger mile and scheduled passengers carried, American Airlines is the largest airline in the world. On March 31, 2022, Robert Isom, 58, became the new chief executive officer of the airline.