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5 Arrested in Siege of Airline Counter

September 28, 1987|Associated Press

MIAMI — Five people were arrested Sunday after nearly 170 people holding tickets on a canceled flight besieged an Eastern Airlines counter at Miami International Airport, police said.

Eastern ticket clerks called for help just after 5 p.m. EDT when an L-1011 flight scheduled to carry 317 passengers to New York's Kennedy International Airport was canceled for mechanical reasons and a replacement Boeing 727 could handle only 149.

"The rest were stranded, and that's when things got out of hand," said Eastern spokesman Robin Matell. "Apparently there was some fighting among the passengers to get on that plane."

An unruly crowd gathered at the ticket counter, police said.

"When police arrived there were about 200 people crowding around the Eastern ticket booth, and some were in the restricted area behind the counter," said Metro-Dade police spokesman Ray Valdes. "For a time there, it was an unruly and unmanageable situation for officers to handle."

Ticket clerks turned the confrontation over to seven Metro-Dade officers, who told passengers and bystanders that they were trespassing and began escorting them out, Valdes said.

"Everybody was angry, but most calmed down when they were told to," Valdes said. "But a few kept arguing and demanded to be put on a plane."

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