Man Charged With In-Flight Assault After Attempted Escape From Gassy Airline Passenger

Photo by Juan Seita
Packed together like festering sardines in a flying aluminum can, every airline passenger in coach class dreams of escape (except maybe that eerily grinning masochist sitting in 24D).

If only we could creep into the business class section, we'd spare ourselves the shrieks of unruly children, the faint smell of dysentery, the bags of half-stale pretzels doled out to keep the cabin nourished just enough to prevent us from tearing each other to shreds.

Beyond the unspoken barrier are those giant squishy seats and an attentive flight crew presumably offering foot massages and filet mignon as we'd drift off into in-flight bliss.

Whether through transcendental meditation or overpriced airline cocktails, most of us cope with the economy-class grotesquerie and find our way peaceably to the destination.

For one man, however, the stench was just too thick.

Noisome Encounter

It was approaching midnight on January 9, when Daniel David Becon boarded American Airlines Flight 56 at Miami International Airport, bound for London.

Overwhelmed by a nearby passenger's farts, Becon stood up from his assigned seat in economy class about two hours into the roughly eight-hour flight, according to an air marshal's affidavit. He made his way to the front of the plane, where he planted himself in an empty business class seat, the affidavit says.

A flight attendant discovered the alleged coup and approached Becon, asking him to return to economy class.

Becon purportedly offered to pay for his new, cushier spot, but the flight attendant broke some unfortunate news: the opportunity to upgrade was long past, and Becon had no choice but to return to the back of the cabin, where more flatulence surely awaited him.

The Alleged Fury

According to the affidavit, Becon had a less-than civil response to the attendant, whom federal law enforcement dubbed "P.E." to protect his privacy.

"Becon began shouting vulgar language and spitting at P.E. The spit landed on P.E.'s face and body," the affidavit alleges.

The flight attendant moved away, but Becon confronted him in the galley and punched him in the punum, causing him to fall to the floor and hit his head, according to the court document.

Another flight attendant who witnessed the alleged assault told law enforcement that she saw Becon standing on top of a seat in business class, shouting, and spitting on her coworker. She said she tried to calm Becon down and directed him back into coach class.

The incident left her frightened, shaking, she claimed.

"Becon... began to walk to the back of the plane, towards the last row, shouting loud obscenities towards the rest of the flight crew in the rear galley. He then sat down in an economy seat," the affidavit alleges.

Becon proceeded to shove a third flight attendant near the rear of the plane, according to the affidavit.

The Denouement

Once the pilot was apprised of the fracas, he diverted the plane back to Miami International Airport. At 3:52 a.m. — more than four hours after boarding — the flight arrived back in the Magic City and Becon was hauled into state custody.

The allegedly unruly passenger is facing federal charges of assault within a territorial jurisdiction and interference with a flight crew. The latter charge is a potential felony.

Filed against Becon in the Southern District of Florida on January 13, the criminal complaint is supported by an investigation by a senior federal air marshal with the Transportation Security Administration, who serves as a task force officer for the FBI at Miami International Airport. 

Becon's attorney at the federal public defender's office has not responded to New Times' request for comment sent via email.

In a post-detainment interview with law enforcement, Becon claimed that after he made his move to business class, the attendant dubbed "P.E." was aggressive and rude, the affidavit states. He purportedly said that during the initial argument, the attendant hit him in the face.

"Becon admitted he did not want to move from the business class seat," the affidavit claims.
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Izzy Kapnick is the news editor at Miami New Times. He has worked as a legal news reporter in South Florida since 2008, covering environmental law, white-collar crime, and the healthcare industry.
Contact: Izzy Kapnick

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