Passenger caused plane to make emergency diversion after faking breathing difficulties to get a bigger seat

Ellena Cruse
A file image of an American Airlines plane: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

A pilot was forced to make an emergency diversion after a plane passenger who faked breathing difficulties to get a bigger seat.

The American Airlines plane had to be diverted after the female traveller said she had a medical issue on a flight from Pensacola to Miami in Florida.

The pilot turned the plane around after telling fliers there was an emergency on Friday morning, Pensacola Police Department's Mike Wood confirmed.

Authorities were called to Pensacola International Airport and the woman, who has not been identified, admitted she had made up her breathing difficulties in order to get a bigger seat.

The woman refused to leave the plane and a complete evacuation of the aircraft was ordered.

In the end, the pilot managed to convince her to exit the aircraft.

The woman was taken into protective custody under Florida's Baker Act which allows individuals to be detailed if they pose a threat to themselves or others.

American Airlines said in a statement to NBC News: "American Eagle 3508 returned to Pensacola due to a passenger who requested medical assistance.

"The flight took off at 5.43am and landed back at Pensacola at 6.26am and taxied to the gate.

"All [passengers] deplaned normally at the gate through the main boarding door and onto the jet bridge. The passenger was subsequently removed by law enforcement and medical personnel, and the flight took off again at 7.41am."

"Criminal charges have not been filed yet against the woman, but she may still be charged," Mr Woods said.

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