First class passenger assaults crew on US flight

  • 08/07/2017
Delta Airlines
Photo credit: File

A Delta Air Lines flight bound for Beijing has returned to the US city of Seattle after a passenger assaulted a flight attendant in the first-class cabin before being subdued by other travellers.

The flight attendant and a passenger were sent to an area hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening after the Boeing 767-300 landed safely shortly after 7pm on Thursday, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport spokesman Perry Cooper said.

A 23-year-old male passenger, from Florida, was arrested by Port of Seattle police on suspicion of assaulting a member of the flight crew and was transferred to federal detention, a Federal Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman said by e-mail.

Delta flight 129 departed Seattle-Tacoma International Airport at around 5.30pm but headed back to Seattle roughly 45 minutes into the flight, Mr Cooper said.

Mr Cooper said the man assaulted a flight attendant in the first-class cabin, but said he had no further details about the incident.

Passenger Dustin Jones told KIRO-TV after landing he saw the man hand-cuffed and being taken off the flight in a wheelchair.

"He started yelling for help," Jones said. "And so he turned the wheelchair over in the middle of the airport, screaming for people to help him, just being belligerent."

The FBI, which was assisting local police with the investigation, interviewed passengers and had no information to suggest the incident was a threat to national security, said Ayn Dietrich, an agency spokeswoman.

The suspect was due to make to an initial appearance in federal court in Seattle on Friday afternoon, Ms Dietrich said.

Mr Cooper said multiple passengers intervened to help subdue the suspect during the in-flight disturbance. The pilot decided to turn back and call for police, fire, and medical personnel to meet the plane.

Lorie Dankers, a spokeswoman for the Transportation Security Administration, said there was no security breach at the airport, south of Seattle.

Delta spokeswoman Liz Savadelis said by e-mail that the passenger was restrained on board and then removed from the flight by law enforcement without further incident after the plane landed in Seattle.

The flight was scheduled to re-depart for Beijing later in the evening, Ms Savadelis said.

Media reports that the plane was escorted back to Seattle by military jets were inaccurate, she added.