PORTLAND – A Southwest Airlines flight had to make an unscheduled landing at the Portland International Airport Tuesday after a passenger reportedly lost his temper over the lack of first class seating.
Lamar Rogers became belligerent and scared other passengers so the pilot decided to divert the flight to Portland, according to court documents obtained by KGW. Southwest flight #1010 had 49 people on board and was supposed to fly direct from Seattle to Sacramento, Calif.
Flight attendants said Rogers swore at them and demanded to speak to the pilot because he was upset that the plane didn’t have first class seating. Southwest is a discount airline and doesn't offer first class seats on any of its flights.
After complaining about his seat, Rogers started repeatedly pushing the call button, ordered flight attendants to serve him alcohol, and "created a disturbance," according to the court documents.
"Rogers loudly demanded alcoholic drinks using foul language. When the flight attendants refused, he became belligerent," the document states. He said it was an emergency and yelled, "I need a [expletive] drink!"
The flight crew told investigators they believed that Rogers posed a threat to the safety of the aircraft and he was also flashing gang signs with his hands.
Some of the passengers also said he seemed "very close to becoming physically violent," according to the court document. One woman asked flight attendants to move her and her daughter to different seats because they were “extremely scared."
Another passenger, a man, offered to move to the seat behind Rogers to “assist if Rogers became violent.”
As the alleged disturbance escalated, flight attendants said they felt so threatened that they boiled water to use as protection in case Rogers charged the cockpit.
The pilot eventually decided to divert the flight to PDX and Port of Portland police took Rogers into custody after the plane landed.
The affidavit included a statement taken from one of the FBI agents who arrested Rogers. Agent Jake Green said Rogers told him "things were bad" and the "people on the plane were evil." He said Rogers also admitted smoking purple hash before boarding the plane and said any gang signs he displayed "were for Jesus."
Rogers was charged with interfering with flight crew members, a federal offense.