DENVER — A Frontier Airlines flight from Denver to Portland, Ore., had to turn around before taking off Monday because a woman on the jet began screaming and removing her clothes.
A passenger recorded a portion of the meltdown while the airplane taxied, but he said it only represents a portion of what happened before and after.
“I was uncomfortable and I wasn’t sitting next to her,” said Devin, who wanted to remain anonymous because of response from the video.
Devin’s video shows the woman kicking and screaming on the ground, and hitting her head against the cockpit door. She can also be heard taking about dying in a plane crash.
He said the trouble started at the gate, long before picking up his phone and pushing the record button.
“Her behavior was really erratic, up and down, crying and then laughing and then crying,” Devin said. “Even before she got on the plane.”
Devin said the incident at the front of the plane didn’t happen until the plane had taxied onto the runway and was minutes from taking off.
“She attempted to pull out the oxygen bag,” he said. “She attempted to pry that open and then, at that point, she had enough and she jumped out of her seat, jumped over the person closest to the aisle there.”
Devin said he shot the video as the plane was on the way back to the gate, but he stopped recording early because the woman began taking off her clothes.
“There were no clothes,” he said. “Not even socks.”
A Frontier Airlines spokesman confirmed the flight was sent back to the gate and that Denver police officers escorted a passenger off before the flight resumed its trip to Portland.
The spokesman said the airline would not elaborate on the incident or its policy when dealing with such a passenger.
“They could have done a much better job,” said Steve Cowell, an aviation safety consultant. “This was clearly a medical emergency that needed an immediate response.”
Cowell said the crew should have called in paramedics before police.
“There is no excuse to see an airplane with a problem like this and not have paramedics on board taking charge of the situation,” Cowell said. “In the period of time that this video lasts.”
Cowell said if the woman exhibited erratic behavior before boarding, gate agents should have also stepped in. Though he said passengers should have also spoken up.
“Do the other passengers a favor,” he said. “Tell a ground agent if you see something. Tell a flight attendant if you hear something. Let them take charge.”