Passengers said man tried to ‘kick out the windows” of the plane before being handcuffed by US Marines
Witnesses told The Sun that the man lashed out during an “altercation”, alleging that he had tried to “kick out the windows” of the plane before he was handcuffed by some US Marines who were also on the flight.
Flight VS141 departed Heathrow Airport as scheduled yesterday, but the 787 Dreamliner was diverted to land in Salt Lake City, Utah – about a two-hour flight away from its original destination.
Officers marched the disruptive passenger down the plane’s steps into custody, seen on images broadcast on the city’s KUTV channel, in a diversion that led to a delay of almost four hours.
The passenger had to be “physically detained by other passengers and flight crew members” while the plane still in mid-air, Salt Lake City Police told the channel in a statement.
Officials have not publicised the details of the disturbance, but reports claim that the passenger was a British man who had been drunk during the flight and travelling with his partner and child.
A source told The Sun that the passengers were already “agitated” before the plane left the UK.
They said that passengers had waited for two hours to drop off luggage at check-in, and another few hours to get through security.
Airports this summer have been struggling with post-pandemic demand for travel amid acute staff shortages.
The unnamed source told the paper that the man only stopped once the US Marines who happened to be onboard “piled on him”.
A Virgin Atlantic spokesperson said that the flight was diverted to ensure the safety of the passengers.
The spokesperson said: “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 safety and wellbeing of our customers and crew is always our top priority and we don’t tolerate any behaviour that compromises this.
“We always want our customers to have the best experience when they fly with us and our cabin crew are highly trained to deal with any individuals that may impact that experience for others.”
The plane landed at Salt Lake City International Airport, where police officers were called to the scene at around 4.30pm.
After the man and his family were deplaned, the aircraft was refuelled for the rest of its journey.
The plane eventually touched down at Los Angeles International Airport at about 8pm local time, almost four hours later than scheduled.
The airline has apologised to the passengers for the delay in the flight, which typically takes 11 hours.