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China-bound Delta flight returns to US after passenger assaults crew member

A male passenger was arrested by Port of Seattle police on suspicion of assaulting a member of the flight crew and was transferred to federal detention.

world Updated: Jul 07, 2017 14:42 IST
Reuters, Seattle
Delta flight,Aviation,Air travel
A male passengers allegedly assaulted a crew member on board a Delta flight.(AP File Photo)

A Delta Air Lines flight bound for Beijing returned to Seattle on Thursday after a passenger assaulted a flight attendant in the first-class cabin before being subdued by other travelers, a Seattle-Tacoma International Airport spokesperson said.

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, airport spokesperson 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 spokesperson 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, Cooper said.

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

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 spokesperson.

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

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 spokesperson for the Transportation Security Administration, said there was no security breach at the airport, south of Seattle.

Delta spokesperson Liz Savadelis said by e-mail that the passenger was restrained onboard 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, Savadelis said.

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

The Federal Aviation Administration declined to comment.

First Published: Jul 07, 2017 14:07 IST