United Airlines flight diverted to Belfast after passenger 'demanded nuts'

'Disruptive' passenger claims cabin crew 'overreacted'

United Airlines flight diverted to Belfast after passenger 'demanded nuts'

A United Airlines flight from Rome to Chicago diverted to Belfast after a 'disruptive' passenger kept demanding nuts.

The captain of the flight decided to make an unscheduled stop in Northern Ireland on Saturday after becoming concerned about the man's "erratic" behaviour.

Jeremiah Mathis Thede, 42, who has dual American and Italian citizenship, is charged with endangering the safety of an aircraft, disruptive behaviour and common assault, reports the Guardian.

He appeared at Coleraine magistrates' court on Monday, where constable William Robinson, with the Belfast International Airport Constabulary, said he got up 15 minutes after take off from Rome, while the seatbelt lights were still illuminated, and demanded nuts or crackers.

He allegedly refused to sit down until he got a snack, and was given nuts by cabin crew.

But 10 minutes later he got up again and demanded more, and was told he would only get more snacks if there were some left over after other travellers had received theirs.

According to the Irish Times, the officer said Mr Thede allegedly replied: "I can have as much nuts and crackers as I f****** want."

The court also heard how other passengers raised concerns about his behaviour, which included numerous trips to the loo, blocking the aisles, repeatedly opening overhead baggage compartments, and squaring up to cabin crew, reports the BBC.

The captain then decided to land at Aldergrove in Belfast after becoming concerned about his behaviour.

He had to dump 50,000 litres of fuel before landing, and had started to fly passed Scotland over the Atlantic before turning around.

After arriving in Belfast, 282 passengers were forced to wait 24 hours before continuing with the journey, with some sleeping on terminal floors, as the crew would have exceeded their legal flying hours if they'd taken off again straight away.

It has been estimated that the cost of the redirection could be around £350,000.

The court heard there would be compensation for passengers.

Mr Thede denies any wrongdoing and says people were picking on him.

A bail application was not considered as background checks had to be carried out with authorities in the US.

Mr Thede was remanded in custody and will appear before Antrim Magistrates' Court via video link on Tuesday 30 June.

15 flights from hell

15 flights from hell

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