People Keep Trying to Steal American Airlines Planes. That Never Ends Well.

A man hopped a fence at the Melbourne, Florida airport — and got on board an American Airlines plane. This happened around 2 a.m. These incidents never end well.

The perpetrator is a 26 year old man from Trinidad “who entered the country via Canada” and is a student pilot. He wasn’t very sneaky. Maintenance workers saw him. And then tackled him.

Reporting on the incident suggested that the aircraft was an Airbus A321, but American Airlines does not fly A321s to Melbourne, Florida. They currently operate Bombardier CR7s and CR9s to Charlotte (update: and do wifi modifications in Melbourne, but the aircraft in question still wasn’t an A321).

Law enforcement “used a robot” to search the man’s car. The airport was evacuated. And flights were grounded until the airport re-opened a little before 7 a.m. (since this is Melbourne, Florida, that appears to mean a total of two flights were delayed).

They used the time to sweep the airfield, though nothing dangerous was found.

This is at least the third plane — and the second one of American’s — the someone has tried to steal in the past two months.

Incidents like this almost always wind up with the person stealing a plane caught, or dead. What is it about trying to steal small planes, too? If you’re going to try something like this, at least go for a big jet and make it worth it.

There seems to be something about American Airlines planes, too. For instance this former American Airlines 727 is still missing after 15 years.

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 »

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  1. The aircraft was parked in the hanger nose-in. That Airbus does not have reverse. It could not have been “stolen” without an experienced tug driver accomplice.

  2. I wish he would have tried to steal one with those mini lavatories. I’m sure The maintenance Crew would have helped him!

  3. The underlying elephant in the room is security FAIL. How is it that people can still “jump” a fence at an airport?

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