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What Happens When You Fake a Medical Emergency for an Upgrade

What Happens When You Fake a Medical Emergency for an Upgrade
Jackie Reddy

A comfortable, roomy seat on an airplane is certainly never a given, but rather than pay for an upgrade, an American Airlines (AA) passenger on a recent Miami-bound flight from Pensacola apparently faked a medical condition with a view to bagging herself an upgrade to a better seat.

According to ABC News, the incident occurred on the morning of Friday, November 29th on-board American Eagle Flight 3508 and involved an unnamed female passenger. And while few details of the incident have emerged, Pensacola Police Department public information officer Mike Wood has confirmed that the incident began when the woman asked to be seated in a larger seat. When she was told that she couldn’t have a larger seat because “the seats were all the same,” she claimed to be having a medical emergency.

A Ploy Gone Awry

Rather than move the passenger to any other seat on the plane, the pilot of the flight opted to fly back to Pensacola. The woman was then asked to deplane. When she refused to do so, the flight was evacuated.  The unnamed female passenger was eventually removed from the flight and taken into the authority of local police under the auspices of the state’s Baker Act, a piece of legislation that enables officials to take custody of those who might pose a threat to others or those around them.

A Stressful Situation

No passengers were injured or hurt as a consequence of the incident and the Miami-bound plane took off once more from Pensacola at around 07:30 a.m. local time on Friday, November 29th. The woman has apparently now been released from police custody and has returned to Miami. She has not been charged by Pensacola authorities. It is unclear if American Airlines will bring its own charges. The airline has said that it has no further comment to offer over the matter.

View Comments (5)


  1. sfoeuroflyer

    December 4, 2019 at 9:42 am

    First thing: sue this woman for the entire cost of the diversion. Second, put her on the do not fly list for the rest of her life.

  2. drphun

    December 4, 2019 at 10:18 am

    That doesn’t sound like a good strategy. When someone is having a medical emergency, it is critical to get them to a hospital ASAP! If an airline doesn’t think someone can fly safely, they can definitely deny boarding, and by can, I mean they are obligated to.

  3. divrdrew

    December 4, 2019 at 10:30 am

    I’m curious as to how they figured out it was a ‘fake’ medical condition?

  4. DCAFly

    December 4, 2019 at 10:31 am

    Surely her behavior would have been more reasonable had AA allowed her to bring her emotional support armadillo on the flight.

  5. AAdamE

    December 5, 2019 at 10:13 am

    You’d be surprised how much a few inches of pitch and width can cure the gravest of ailments.

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