An unwanted game of footsie caused a Southwest Airline flight to make an emergency landing.
There are many unspoken rules in air travel, such as the armrest closest to the aisle is the one that you definitely own, the first person to the overhead bin gets the entire space, and no matter how loud and obnoxious someone’s baby is, you’re not allowed to strangle them.
There’s another rule too: no footsies. A rule that was flagrantly broken by a Texas man last Tuesday.
Justin Riley Brafford, age 29, is set to appear in federal court on Wednesday for one charge of assault and one charge of interfering with and intimidating members of a flight crew. The charges stem from continually harassing a woman on a Southwest Airlines flight, as well as going on a profanity-laden rant when flight crew attempted to separate him from his victim.
According to court documents uncovered by USA Today, the unidentified woman stated that Brafford "began to lean closer to her seat with his arm over her armrest and on her leg" before he started "playing footsies." He also verbally harassed the woman, saying, "Don't [expletive] with me."
The woman was adamantly unreceptive to Brafford’s attempts at flirting and asked the flight attendant if she could change seats.
Once properly seated away from Brafford things calmed down for a time, but then Brafford got up from his seat to track down the woman. Flight attendants caught him before he could continue his harassment and warned him to return to his seat. That’s when Brafford flew into a rage and began to curse loudly.
Flight attendants stated that Brafford went from "zero to 60 in nano-seconds" and was "possibly on drugs." The flight diverted to Albuquerque where Brafford was arrested by local police.
Once questioned, Brafford told authorities that he was receiving "calls" from God and that he had taken methamphetamines the day before the flight. He also stated he’d overdosed on heroin the previous Saturday.
Brafford faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.