Cannabis Smoking Passenger Causes American Airlines Diversion

For frequent fliers, the phrase “smoking is not allowed onboard this aircraft,” is a familiar one. Unfortunately, some passengers simply do not get the message. And, this can lead to some lengthy and inconvenient diversions and delays for both passengers, crew, and the airline. A passenger on an American Airlines flight last Friday, September 20th, caused a diversion after lighting a cannabis product onboard the aircraft.

American Airlines
A passenger lit a cannabis product while onboard an American Airlines flight. Photo: Airbus

American Airlines cannabis incident

All was normal on AA2408 which took off from Phoenix en route to Minneapolis. However, about one hour into the flight, View from the Wing reports that the captain decided to divert due to an “unruly passenger.”

According to reports, the passenger in question broadcast to his seatmates that “he was on cocaine” and later went to the lavatory where he lit a cannabis product. It appears that the passenger continued his unruly behavior on the ground and perhaps may have hit another passenger. You can watch the inflight video below:

The flight later continued on to Minneapolis from Denver. Passengers seated towards the front of the plane deplaned in order to facilitate the man’s removal. Although, the irony of this incident was likely not lost to many of the passengers.

Smoking, including the use of cannabis, is not a good idea on any American Airlines flight

Smoking, including the use of e-cigarettes, is not allowed onboard due to government regulations, as per American’s safety video.

Not only is smoking unhealthy for the person consuming the product and those around them, but improper disposal could lead to a fire hazard. This is why, even though smoking is not allowed, aircraft have an ashtray. The last thing any flight crew would want is a fire due to a passenger’s cigarette.

Cannabis Smoking Passenger Causes American Airlines Diversion
The no-smoking sign is clear and ubiquitous across modern aircraft. Photo: Kashif Mardani via Wikimedia Commons

Smoking on planes

Although there was once a time when aircraft had a smoking section, smoking on an aircraft today comes with serious consequences and hefty fines. Earlier this year, a Spirit Airlines passenger faced a lifetime ban after vaping onboard an aircraft and an Alaska Airlines flight diverted due to a passenger who tried to smoke onboard.

American would likely prefer this passenger to keep his lighted cannabis products away from their aircraft. Not to mention, fellow passengers probably would prefer to keep themselves or any children away from secondhand smoke.

inflight tracking
A posted no smoking sign onboard an airBaltic A220. Photo: Jo Bailey – Simple Flying


It seems that the crew handled the situation well and, aside from disruptions to travel plans, there were no major consequences for either the airline or fellow passengers. It is unclear what kind of legal or disciplinary action the passenger could face given that diversions can be incredibly expensive for a passenger or an airline.

Were you a passenger on this flight? How did this incident play out? Do you have an opinion on smoking onboard? Let us know in the comments below!