Southwest passenger arrested for throwing peanuts, pretzels at crew

Southwest Airlines

Credit: WFAA

Southwest passenger arrested for throwing peanuts, pretzels at crew

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by LESLIE AGUILAR and JASON WHITELY

Bio | Email | Follow: @jasonwhitely

WFAA

Posted on July 13, 2011 at 8:59 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jul 13 at 9:01 PM

DALLAS — The FBI arrested a Southwest Airlines passenger for reportedly throwing peanuts and pretzels at a flight attendant after being told he could not smoke an electronic cigarette on a flight this week.

The FBI charged Pogos Paul Sefilian, 42, with interfering with a flight crew.

Sefilian was on Southwest Flight 188 from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City on Monday evening.

According to an FBI affidavit that News 8 reviewed, a flight attendant told Sefilian that electronic cigarettes were prohibited on the aircraft after he began to use one while seated in the front row of the Boeing 737.

An electronic cigarette, or e-cigarette, simulates smoking by producing a vapor rather than tobacco smoke. It’s designed to help smokers quit.

Sefilian initially put it away, the affidavit said, but brought it out again later.

When the flight attendant approached him a second time, Sefilian shouted at him, prosecutors said.

The flight attendant reportedly showed Sefilian the airline policy on electronic cigarettes and he reportedly reacted by throwing peanuts and pretzels at the flight attendant and the cockpit door.

The affidavit said Sefilian's outbursts interrupted the flight attendant's normal procedures.

But Sefilian is accused of going further as the plane was on final approach.

He stood up and began opening overhead containers in the cabin, the affidavit continued. Sefilian reportedly ignored six requests from the crew to close them and sit down before the jet landed.

But the defendant, the affidavit said, walked to the front of the plane and "postured his chest out at the flight attendants," less than a foot away from them before sitting down.

The FBI met the flight at the Salt Lake City airport and detained Sefilian.

"Safety is our number one priority," a Southwest Airlines spokesperson said, "and flight attendants ensure the safety of everyone on board."

A public defender listed for Sefilian did not immediately return a call from News 8 on Wednesday.

Sefilian is locked up at a federal detention center in Salt Lake City facing another court appearance on Thursday.

E-mail jwhitely@wfaa.com

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