American Airlines flight diverted after racial slur incident

An American Airlines flight from Dallas to Los Angeles was forced to divert to Phoenix last week after three passengers became involved in an altercation onboard that included the use of a racial slur.

The Arizona Republic reported that two women, 29-year-old Leeza Rodriguez and 30-year-old Kelly Pichardo, were arrested upon landing at the airport Wednesday afternoon. Pichardo was charged with assault and disorderly conduct, while Rodriguez faces a charge of disorderly conduct.

The pair allegedly grew angry and spit on a man after he asked them to stop using unspecified racist language. A spokesperson for American Airlines told the newspaper that the two women had been permanently banned from flying on the airline. The company is also in talks with the victim and other "impacted customers" to "ensure their well-being."


"Their behavior was disturbing and unacceptable," Derek Walls, an American Airlines spokesman, told the Arizona Republic, adding: "We thank our crew members for their professionalism in managing a difficult situation."

A spokesperson for Phoenix police told the Republic that one woman "became upset and allegedly spit at the male passenger who had asked her to stop using that language," and also struck his cellphone out of his hand after he began recording the incident.

The flight eventually continued on to Los Angeles after the pair were taken off the plane, according to the Republic.