A flight headed from Washington, D.C., to Denver had to return to Dulles International Airport after a pilot reported that a passenger had become violent and needed to be restrained by other passengers.
United Airlines spokesman Luke Punzenberger said in an emailed statement that Flight 1074 returned after takeoff Monday evening at about 10:40 p.m.. He says local law enforcement met the aircraft at the gate and detained the passenger. His statement did not provide further details about what happened on board the Boeing 737.
A passenger video posted on Reddit shows the passenger in custody, and crying "I'm sorry."
Airport spokeswoman Kimberly Gibbs said the passenger was taken to a local hospital for evaluation and has not been charged.
Recordings of communications between pilots and air traffic controllers on the website LiveATC.net indicate pilots turned around after a passenger ran toward the cockpit and had to be restrained.
The pilot, in a calm voice, said he was “declaring an emergency due to a passenger disturbance. He’s restrained. We need to return to the airport,” according to the LiveATC.net recording.
The pilot later explained that “we had a passenger becoming violent” and that he “ran toward the cockpit.”
After being asked by controllers, he reported that the incident was a “Level 2” disturbance, the second lowest level of severity on a four-level scale used by the industry. A Level 2 disturbance indicates physically abusive behavior but no life-threatening behavior.
In another case of in-flight misbehavior, an associate sociology professor at Penn State University faces disorderly conduct charges after being removed from an American Airlines flight.
Officials say 52-year-old Karen Halnon started a rant about U.S-Venezuela relations about half way through a Saturday flight from Nicaragua to Miami.
A passenger on the plane caught the rant on video, which was posted on local television websites. It also showed her lighting a cigarette and blaming it on another passenger. Flight attendants requested that police meet the flight in Miami. Halnon was taken into custody, questioned and arrested on disorderly conduct and breach of peace charges.
Halnon told Miami television stations that she felt compelled to speak up after spending a week of researching in Nicaragua.
Halnon bonded out of jail and returned to Pennsylvania.
Airport officials say the plane, a de Havilland Dash 8-400, circled to burn off fuel before making a successful landing at 11 a.m.
According to KMGH-TV, the plane was kept on the runway until passengers could board buses.
The interrupted flight was scheduled to continue to Kansas City four hours late.