American Passengers Forced To Place Hands On Heads For Landing Before Being Detained

Hands up, don’t shoot. American Airlines “ordered passengers on a flight from Los Angeles to Miami on Wednesday to put their hands on their heads” for the last 45 to 60 minutes of the flight “because of a potential security threat.” On arrival in Miami, the flight 2289 was boarded by law enforcement with machine guns.

One man was arrested, but that wasn’t the end because when passengers were finally permitted to deplane they were held in the terminal.

According to American Airlines,

Passengers were deplaned and bused to the terminal, and the aircraft was inspected by authorities. Safety and security is our top priority and we apologize to our customers for any inconvenience this caused.”

While American Airlines did not identify the security threat, it’s possible they were just being proactive given it was it was one of their flights, and full of Miami passengers they could simply have been playing the odds…

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »



  1. I wonder if First Class pax’s were allowed to keep their hands down so they could finish their cocktails. Kidding!

  2. I don’t think they should declare the reasoning. Too much information in public domain helps Terrorists. Domestic and foreign.

  3. Dumb. Hope someone sues American. I would. Traumatise passengers and continue the flight with a potential terrorist on board. Okay.

  4. @CJ – if the pilot was just made aware in the last hour of the flight they were already cleared to MIA a f it likely would have taken as long to get redirected. This wasn’t a mechanical issue that could cause an imminent crash.

    However never heard of asking an entire plane to ours hands on their heads. 8.5 million miles and flew a lot when the unabomber was targeted planes (as well as right after 9/11 and this was never done. Would love to get the full story

  5. @Nosey Parker – so your immediate thought is “sue”. What a guy you are. I guess snowflakes are traumatized by anything and want to sue for damages. SMH

    BTW anyone can sue but this would be quickly dismissed since airlines are given broad latitude in dealing with situations and you have no idea what communications occurred between the pilot and the ground.

  6. AC – if something is considered enough of an emergency with a mechanical problem to rapidly divert a flight to another landing location than wouldn’t you think making passengers put their hands over their heads would be considered an emergency. Capt could have announced diversion because of cabin light or weather. I too would like the full story and what happened after someone was arrested. And what compensation can passengers receive for this craziness.

  7. What the hell is wrong with you? Do you really think American Airlines is doing this for fun and games? Do you not think protocol was followed and there was a Urgent need for this to occur?

    If something happened every last one of you would be on the other side of the fence crying foul… “Why didn’t AA do something”!!

    And @Gary Leff shame on you for your irresponsible spin on this article.

    Whatever happened, it happened for a reason and it’s none of YOUR business and I hope soon AA blackballs you from flying.

  8. “snowflakes” what a term. Of course you know our ex president is the biggest snowflake off all. 3500 lawsuits filed in private life according to 2019 book Plaintiff in Chief, plus all of the post election nonsense

  9. No matter what everyone feels about this, the FAs were given a lot to deal with. I assume they were responsible for policing the hands on head dictate. They also may have been aware of the security issue, which might have been frightening.

  10. AC name calling people Snowflakes? How racist Republican u must be. At least Smowflakes don’t vote for men who grab women by their genitals and cause insurrections

  11. In what circumstances does making all flight passengers keep their hands on their head for 40+ minutes stop one or more violent criminals with no respect for the life and law of others from acting out on a flight? Was this done on the orders of some wacky FAMs on the flight who were trying to “not blow our cover”?

  12. Oy vey. Agree with many of the other comments and want to know the full story

  13. OMG! You land when a problem is detected! Would he not land if there was a fire?
    P.S. Don’t tell the public; telling the public is telling terrorists and others with evil intent.

  14. I wonder what AA would have tried to do if I refused to put my hands on my head. That is completely ridiculous and the lawsuit would concern however AA tried to enforce their request.

    This is a whole new level of the kind of behavior that flight crews have evolved into. Somehow we have to regain the customer/provider relationship rather than whatever they call thinking we owe them something for buying their ticket.

  15. Some of the comments here are unbelievable! Looking at you “not” Gary Leff. As someone with a background in law enforcement I can tell you right now that asking people to put there hands behind there heads is in no way going to alleviate any real threat. Are you stupid enough to believe that if there was a real terrorist on board they would comply? There are not nearly enough FA to monitor or enforce such a command and all it does is cause panic and fear. Stupid is as stupid does.

  16. I believe it may have been a power trip. ” lets see if we can get these idiots to keep their hands on their heads for 45 minutes”
    Just like keeping the mask mandate even if you have already had the virus and or have been vaccinated.
    Remember the good ole days when the flight crew saw to make your ride as comfortable as possible.

  17. So now I have to fly with my medical diagnosis for my shoulder in case AA requires me to put my hands on my head. I just can’t with this airline……

  18. The sad thing is that another set of DOT data has been released and it shows that American’s revenue decline is no different than other airlines in markets where they compete with multiple airlines – but American’s yield is much lower and the number of passengers it has carried is much higher.

    Throughout the entire pandemic, American has tried to fly way more capacity than the market demanded or other airlines were operating (ie multiple 777s per day between MIA and LAX) and yet they had to aggressively discount their fares in order to fill planes.

    They haven’t gained any more revenue than anyone else on comparable routes but they have cheapened the travel experience to previously unseen levels. There is no way to deny that AA’s deep discounting is bringing a totally different class of travel – and American is not prepared to deal with it.

    There is no way that any business passengers in their right mind are going to return to American. Other airlines simply are delivering a more civil travel experience even if it costs a small amount more.

    American used to be the leader in airline strategy. Now it can’t get a single strategy right if its life depended on it – and it does.

  19. Am so glad that I can avoid AA and UA mainline entirely from my home in VT … and am so galled that their quality subsidiaries, like Republic and Envoy, are assumed to be culpable and thus treated like dirt. No More Bailouts. They lie, lie, lie. Let these big elephants perish, like their overstuffed political supporters. AA and UA are equally maligned – it’s all about the shareholders. DAL and LUV are skirting the edge of good business practices. Who will define the post-COVID market? Pass the popcorn …

  20. “LovetoFly says:
    July 9, 2021 at 1:20 pm
    So now I have to fly with my medical diagnosis for my shoulder in case AA requires me to put my hands on my head. I just can’t with this airline……”

    Interesting that you mentioned a shoulder injury.

    Recently, in a robbery attempt, the robber grabbed my arm and twisted it so bad the “rotator cuff” in my shoulder got torn loose from the bone. It is still in the healing process and does not allow me to elevate my shoulder. I cannot help but wonder what the crew would have done when I could not comply with their demand for putting my hands on my head.

  21. Travel is rapidly deteriorating into an activity suitable only for savages. I’ve been top tier on several airline and hotel companies at one point or another. Happily, I won’t have to travel as much since CoVid.

  22. Trash ass airline. Given it was Miami pax likely paying an NK priced fare, there were probably more than a handful of felons who could fit the bill.

  23. All passengers should have refused to comply with an abusive and inhumane order from flight attendants and pilots. We only find ourselves in these situations because people comply and it sets the precedent. If everyone on board said this is ridiculous and no, the next people who find themselves in this situation would do the same. We outnumber everyone by 100 to 1. This type of thing is not enforceable if all said no and showed that this won’t be tolerated. Flight attendants and pilots should be treated like garbage going forward. Blindly following orders is no excuse.

  24. Cmorgan, DFWSteve and Jackson Waterson. Thank you for three sensible comments. I just got back from a 3400 mile road trip. My choice was to drive and enjoy it (and I fly free) or fly and put up with new regime compliance tactics. Power is more intoxicating than any drug. Evidently freedom has lost that allure to recent generations. Sad.

  25. LMAO at these POSTERS who know NOTHING and can do NOTHING about it !!!

    PAX- 0 CREW- 1 game and point.

  26. Sounds abusive and useless. What if you are flying with kids that won’t do it or need attention all the time? Where does this stop? If FA tells you to put your head in the toilet, you comply bc there must be a good untold reason? You go to jail for not obeying the crew? Draw the line. If you are granted authority you better have a very good reason to ask for something and expect to be held accountable.

  27. I obviously wouldn’t comply, simple as that. A flight crew is not a group of law enforcement officials. Good luck with enforcement.

  28. What is is with Miami flights? Is there something mixed in with the air circulating around in the cabin/plane that makes everyone go cray cray? That was some choice language in that second video.

  29. I’m a former AA flight attendant. I don’t have any specific knowledge of this incident, however, logic should tell you that if the plane was stopped remotely on the tarmac and people were bussed to the terminal, they probably suspected there was a bomb on board. If they suspected there was a bomb on board, that would also support why they wanted everyone’s hands visible and why they did not want people using their phones because a phone can also be used to set off an explosive device. It is the same reason people are told not to use their phones when going through customs. For SECURITY. Instead of complaining and ignoring the flight crew instructions, people should be thankful nothing serious happened. Those were extreme directives that would not have been issued without an extremely urgent reason. So good job all those yahoos filming and using their phones when they were told not to. You are lucky that you didn’t distract the crew who were probably busy trying to ensure nobody was trying to use their phone to detonate an explosive. Please just do what the crews tell you to do. They don’t make things up to be difficult. Everything they do is for the safety of everyone on board and most of the time, they don’t have the time to explain it to you or simply cannot because it could compromise security. Listen to your crew on the airplane even if it seems ridiculous. One day it might save your life.

  30. “Everything they do is for the safety of everyone on board”. Really? I have one response, respectfully submitted, No. Although it should be recognized that different airlines have differing sets of FA staff. AA has a very aged and very privileged set. They are so protected by their union that they have no qualms about sitting in their seat for the entire flight looking at their own phone. If that plane was set to blow up, there is no way that the crew could stop it by issuing idiotic commands. My experience is restricted to AA business class where the most militant FA staff bid to be and I can tell you there is zero mutual respect. Please notice how most of the comments back me up.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *