Flight diverted after unruly passenger assaults air marshal, flight attendant

Delta Airlines praised the marshal's "quick action and professionalism"


By Maddie Capron
The Charlotte Observer

OKLAHOMA CITY — A flight heading to California was diverted after a passenger assaulted two officials on board, police said.

The Delta flight was heading to Los Angeles from Washington, D.C., on Dec. 9 when it diverted to Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City, police said.

A Delta Airlines flight heading to California was diverted after a passenger assaulted two officials on board, including a Federal Air Marshal.
A Delta Airlines flight heading to California was diverted after a passenger assaulted two officials on board, including a Federal Air Marshal. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

An “unruly passenger” assaulted a flight attendant on board the flight, the Oklahoma City Police Department told McClatchy News. Police did not say what prompted the assault.

“An air marshal on board intervened, at which point the passenger assaulted the air marshal,” Oklahoma City Police Capt. Arthur Gregory told NBC News. “The air marshal was basically able to get them in custody.”

Delta Airlines said the passenger was removed from the plane by local law enforcement.

After the plane landed, officials arrested the 35-year-old man on complaints of disorderly conduct and public drunkenness, police said.

Police did not say if the flight attendant or air marshal were injured in the assault.

“Delta applauds the quick action and professionalism of the crew and Federal Air Marshals on Delta flight 342 from Washington, D.C. to Los Angeles,” Delta told McClatchy News in an email. “We apologize to our customers for the inconvenience.”

The Federal Aviation Administration implemented a zero-tolerance policy in January after seeing “a disturbing increase in incidents where airline passengers have disrupted flights with threatening or violent behavior.”

The agency has received thousands of reports of unruly passengers in 2021. As of Dec. 10, the FAA has received more than 5,550 reports of unruly passengers this year.

Assaulting a flight crew member or a flight attendant could be punishable by up to 20 years in prison, according to Cornell Law School. The FAA can also fine an unruly passenger up to $37,000 per violation.

©2021 The Charlotte Observer. Visit charlotteobserver.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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