SALT LAKE CITY – An airline passenger who allegedly got up to go the bathroom less than 30 minutes before landing became the first person arrested under a new federal flight regulation adopted for the Olympics.
Richard Bizarro, 59, could get up to 20 years in prison on charges of interfering with a flight crew.
Bizarro was on a Delta flight from Los Angeles on Saturday when he allegedly left his seat 25 minutes before landing, despite two warnings from the captain to the 90 passengers to stay put as required under the 30-minute rule adopted for Salt Lake City by the Federal Aviation Administration.
Because of the incident, air marshals aboard the plane ordered all passengers to put their hands on their heads for the rest of the flight.
Bizarro was jailed overnight and released on his own recognizance.
Authorities said a flight attendant instructed Bizarro to return to his seat immediately after he left the bathroom. She said Bizarro, who is 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds, ignored her orders and stared at her for about a minute before returning to his seat, according to the FBI.
The incident was seen by two of three undercover air marshals on board, the FBI said. One of the agents said he saw Bizarro give what appeared to be a "thumbs up" to another passenger as he returned to his seat, prompting the marshals to take control of the cabin.
The Salt Lake City rule requiring no passenger movement during the last 30 minutes went into effect Feb. 5. It already had been in effect for flights to Reagan International Airport in Washington.