A Texas man is accused of “playing footsies” with a female passenger while on a Southwest Airlines flight this week, and then interfering with flight attendants when the woman changed her seat, causing the flight to be diverted, The Dallas Morning News reported.
Justin Riley Brafford, 29, of Denton, faces a felony count of interference with a flight crew and a misdemeanor assault charge, the newspaper reported. He made an initial court appearance Wednesday in New Mexico and remains in federal custody.
According to a criminal complaint, Bradford boarded a flight from Los Angeles to Dallas on Tuesday and sat in a middle seat. The woman in the aisle seat alleged that Brafford put his arm on her leg as the plane was preparing for takeoff, the Morning News reported.
The woman leaned away from him and later told an FBI agent that Brafford began “playing footsies” with her. She asked an attendant if she could move to another seat, the newspaper reported.
However, Brafford confronted the woman in her new seat, and when the flight attendant spoke to him, he responded with obscenities and began yelling, according to the criminal complaint.
The flight attendant notified the pilot, who diverted the flight to Albuquerque, the Morning News reported. In an interview with authorities, Brafford said that he and the woman had been watching videos on her computer and that he thought she was flirting with him, according to the complaint.
“The safety and comfort of everyone on board every operating aircraft is our highest concern,” Southwest Airlines said in a statement.
Brafford faces up to 20 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine for interfering with the flight crew, the Morning News reported. The assault charge carries a penalty of up to a year in prison and a $100,000 fine.
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