A woman whose unruly behavior caused an American Airlines flight from Charlotte to London to be rerouted to Philadelphia last summer was charged Thursday with assault.
Sarah Buffett, 41, of Charlotte, allegedly needed to be physically restrained by flight crew and passengers during a red-eye flight that departed Charlotte Douglas International Airport on July 22 at 11:17 p.m. Flight 732, operated by U.S. Airways, was diverted to Philadelphia International Airport, landing on July 23 at 4:36 a.m. The diversion inconvenienced 267 passengers.
Buffett, seated in first class, allegedly became physically aggressive and was damaging her seat, according to a criminal complaint filed July 22 by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. She allegedly attempted to smash the aircraft window with an entertainment system remote before getting out of her seat and acting in a menacing manner in front of the cockpit door.
Flight attendants needed assistance from passengers to place Buffett in plastic restraints, according to the complaint. She allegedly removed the restraints twice before being held down by a passenger and had tape wrapped around her lower legs.
Buffett told investigators that she drank at least three glasses of wine and took a Zaleplon pill prescribed for her insomnia, the complaint said. She claims not to remember anything after requesting not to be served dinner. Her next memory, she told investigators, came after being physically restrained by an unknown male and learning of the flight's diversion.
If convicted, Buffett faces a maximum prison sentence of one year, one year of supervised release and a fine.