Judge frees disruptive flight attendant but bans her from flying

American Airline flight attendant Joanne Snow faces a detention hearing in federal court on Friday.
American Airline flight attendant Joanne Snow faces a detention hearing in federal court on Friday. Mecklenburg jail

The American Airlines flight attendant accused of striking co-workers and federal marshals on an overseas Thanksgiving flight from Charlotte is free to return to her New Hampshire home for a psychological evaluation.

But she can’t fly.

U.S. Magistrate Judge David Cayer set a $50,000 unsecured bond for Joanne Snow, 67, provided she visit a mental health treatment facility within 10 days for an assessment.

Snow, whose career spans some 50 years, is accused of two federal crimes stemming from a round-trip flight between Charlotte and Frankfurt, Germany, marred by what witnesses describe as her erratic and violent behavior. She faces a maximum penalty of more than 25 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.

She was arrested last Friday after the return trip to Charlotte and involuntarily committed to area hospitals. She was jailed after her release from the medical facilities.

During her detention hearing in federal court, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Savage told the judge that the government was OK with Snow being released from jail for treatment – once prosecutors had a better understanding of her condition.

Assistant Public Defender Peter Adolph said his client could get better treatment and an assessment if she was out of jail and home in New Hampshire, where she has family and friends to support her, and he raised the possibility that Snow’s behavior on the November flight might have resulted from an adverse reaction to new medication.

Cayer placed Snow under the supervision of her son Kyle Snow, who told the judge he lives within 10 miles of his mother’s home. The son also agreed to make sure his mother receives treatment and complies with the other conditions of her release.

After the hearing, Kyle Snow and other family members declined comment.

The judge banned Snow from flying or trying to make contact with the crew of the Charlotte-to-Frankfurt flight, as well as other potential witnesses in her case. She must also report to U.S. Probation officers in her home state.

An affidavit from a U.S. air marshal who was a passenger on the overseas flight said Snow struck her co-workers and marshals and then tried to flee passport control after the plane landed in Charlotte. A federal prosecutor said Snow tried to open the aircraft’s door while it taxied for takeoff in Germany.

Snow was involuntary committed to a hospital after her arrest last Friday but was released. She has been held in the Mecklenburg County Jail since her initial court appearance on Tuesday, during which she talked over her attorney and said she had not disrupted the flights.

During the Friday hearing, Snow appeared much more in control than she had at her Tuesday hearing when she talked over her attorney and interrupted the judge. Friday, she wore a burgundy Mecklenburg jail T-shirt and walked into a courtroom mostly filled with family and friends. A representative of American Airlines also was on hand.

Michael Gordon: 704-358-5095, @MikeGordonOBS