Passenger Tried to Storm Cockpit After Meltdown Over Menu

Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast/Broward County
Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast/Broward County

A hotheaded businessman allegedly attacked a flight attendant after her “shitty” colleague was not sufficiently deferential while reciting the available meal choices.

That’s according to a criminal complaint reviewed by The Daily Beast, which says American Airlines passenger Robert David Croizat became enraged about halfway through a flight from Barbados to South Florida.

An irate Croizat demanded to speak with the captain of the aircraft about the subpar service he felt he had received, melting down to such a degree that another traveler was moved to overpower the U.K. citizen and force him back to his seat so the plane could land safely, the complaint says.

American Airlines Flight 1192 left Bridgetown for Miami International Airport at 3:53 p.m. on March 8. A little less than two hours into the four-hour journey, Croizat got up out of his seat and “caused a disturbance… by getting out of his assigned seat and approaching flight attendant (“FA”) 1,” according to the complaint.

“Croizat told FA1 he was a ‘shitty’ flight attendant and should have addressed him in a better way when giving him the choices for his meal,” the complaint continues, noting that Croizat was “shouting” at the crewmember.

A proffer statement filed in federal court shows Croizat’s back was up not only “because he believed [FA1] had been rude to him,” but also “to voice his displeasure that only vegetarian meal options were available in the first-class cabin.”

During the confrontation, Croizat said he had had two drinks on the flight.

“What, you want to call the Captain?” Croizat allegedly then taunted a second flight attendant, then continued to “aggressively, demandingly, and loudly ordered the flight attendants to “get the Captain out here,” the complaint goes on.

The two flight attendants told Croizat to sit back down, but he refused and continued to insist on an audience with the captain.

In the midst of this altercation, Croizat “touched flight attendant 3,” the complaint states. When she told Croizat not to touch her, he pushed her twice, according to the complaint, which says Croizat “continued to persist in being belligerent and non-compliant.” So flight attendant 3 called the captain in the cockpit to apprise him of the situation.

At this point, Croizat turned his ire back to flight attendant 2, who was now guarding the cockpit door. She told Croizat to sit down, but he “refused to comply and pushed FA 2, briefly pinning her against the cockpit door,” the complaint goes on.

“All the while, passengers told Croizat many times to sit down, but Croizat refused and continued to be disruptive,” the complaint states. “Finally, a passenger lifted Croizat and placed him in his seat in [an] attempt to restrain him, causing a glass of wine to spill.”

Croizat remained in his seat for the rest of the flight, but “continu[ed] to complain to the flight attendants about the way he was treated,” according to the complaint, which says flight attendant 2 strategically positioned her serving cart in front of the cockpit door “to keep Croizat from making any further attempts to contact the Captain.”

The captain contacted air traffic control to report the incident, which he described as having included an “attempted breach of the cockpit,” the complaint continues. When the aircraft landed at Miami International, Croizat was arrested.

A motion filed by Croizat’s attorney, Barry Wax, explains he was going to Miami for five days to visit his son, who wound up co-signing his dad’s bond. But things weren’t moving fast enough for Croizat, who was ordered to turn in his passport, and complained to the court that the cost of renting Airbnbs while waiting for his case to be adjudicated was “financially burdensome” and asked to be allowed to return home temporarily. His request was denied.

Wax told The Daily Beast that the criminal complaint filed by the government in this case makes Croizat’s behavior seem more extreme than it was. He described the assault as an “argument,” saying video taken by another passenger shows Croizat poking a flight attendant in the shoulder, which Wax said qualifies as an “unwanted touch” but not an attack, per se. Finally, Wax insisted that Croizat never actually attempted to storm the cockpit, calling the government’s allegation an exaggeration.

The FAA last year received 2,455 reports of unruly passengers aboard airplanes, with 831 investigations launched. In addition to criminal charges being brought by law enforcement, the FAA—which says it has “zero tolerance” for fliers acting out, separately levied $8.4 million in fines for bad behavior.

Croizat pleaded guilty in Miami federal court on Wednesday to a misdemeanor charge of assault, Wax said, adding that an initial felony charge of interference with a flight crew was dropped. American Airlines did not respond to The Daily Beast’s requests for comment.

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