Passenger on Aeromexico flight says language barrier caused confusion

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Bad weather diverted an Aeromexico flight from San Francisco International Airport to Oakland International Airport Thursday morning. Once on the ground things got worse. Passengers stuck on the tarmac for hours called 911 for help saying they were being held against their will, some even fainted due to the heat on the plane. Cell phone video captured the tense moments on the plane and the arrest of two passengers deemed unruly by flight staff.

The flight from Guadalajara sat on the tarmac longer than it was in the air. Several hours in passengers said they could take no more of the stifling hot conditions.



RELATED: 2 'unruly' passengers detained at Oakland Airport released after speaking with authorities

"We were trying to help out by blowing air with the magazines, giving them water and there was a bunch of kids crying because their parents were passing out. It was just chaos and nothing was being done," said Ivan Garcia, a passenger.

The captain called for police, as did passengers, but for different reasons.

VIDEO: Aeromexico flight stuck on Oakland Airport tarmac for hours
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An Aeromexico flight from Guadalajara to San Francisco was diverted to Oakland International Airport and sat on the tarmac for hours.



"He is saying that we are kidnapping him and he's going to open the door. What I really need is the police," radioed the captain.

"911 calls from passengers saying that they wanted to get off the plane, that they felt they were being held against their will," said Sgt. Ray Kelly, Alameda County Sheriff's Office.

Alameda County Sheriff's deputies arrested two men.

"He threatened that he was going to open the aircraft door and exit the aircraft on his own accord," said Sgt. Kelly.

Passengers say what they witnessed is different than what airline staff reported.

"Nobody tried to open the door. The first guy that had gotten arrested was a certified RN who had went up to the front of the airplane and had offered to help and the lady took it as a threat or something," said Deserae Torres, a passenger.

One of the men arrested reached out to ABC 7. He did not want to be identified but says he works in an Intensive Care Unit in an East Bay hospital. He says a language barrier between him and the flight attendant caused the confusion. Once he and others explained to FBI investigators what happened he was released.

Around 3:30 in the afternoon the plane finally taxied to a terminal. Aeromexico said in a statement they had to get special permission to deplane because the airline doesn't normally staff at Oakland Airport. Regardless, passengers say the airline could have handled the situation better.

"No one ever came out to give water, give us water until the very end when the paramedics had to come on board of course," said Jasmine Sarabia, passenger.

Once they cleared customs people had the option to bus to SFO, many simply went home from Oakland. The sheriff's office says the passenger bill of rights regarding tarmac wait time apparently does not apply to international flights because of the customs process.
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