Tuesday’s Virgin Atlantic flight from London Heathrow to Los Angeles featured an unruly customer who attempted to kick out a window. A group of off-duty U.S. marines assisted in restraining the individual.
The aggressive passenger caused the pilots to make a detour to Salt Lake City, Utah, where local law enforcement removed the suspect from the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. The unknown passenger is still in jail, and charges are anticipated to be filed later today by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Witnesses aboard Virgin Atlantic flight VS141 said that although the passenger started causing problems an hour into the 10-hour flight, it wasn’t until nearly eight hours later that the flight was diverted due to the person’s increasingly disruptive behavior.
The intoxicated man allegedly “kicked off” with flight attendants at least three times while flying with his American partner and child and is thought to be British.
The passenger had been cautioned by flight attendants about his behavior, and at one point he slept off before awakening and acting out violently. Witnesses of the incident allege the man attempted to kick out a window of the airplane before several U.S. Marines “piled on him” and assisted flight attendants in restraining him.
As the pilots touched down at Salt Lake City Airport, the man was restrained with handcuffs and fastened to a seat in the back of the Economy cabin.
Around 3:30 pm, the plane touched down in Utah. It was immediately transferred to a remote de-icing pad in the southwest, where police enforcement surrounded the aircraft and removed the suspect.
Although it has been claimed that a mother on the flight dropped her baby as a result of the man’s violent actions, there were no immediate reported injuries.
A Virgin Atlantic spokesperson said its cabin crew was “highly trained” to deal with unruly passengers. “Due to a disruptive passenger onboard flight VS141 operating from London Heathrow to Los Angeles on Tuesday 26 July, the aircraft diverted to Salt Lake City to be met by police authorities,” the airline said in a statement.
“The safety and wellbeing of our customers and crew is always our top priority and we don’t tolerate any behavior that compromises this.”
The individual might be charged with interference with flight crew members, a crime that carries a maximum 20-year prison term, and a $25,000 fine.