A Virgin Atlantic flight from London to Los Angeles was diverted to Salt Lake City on Tuesday due to an “unruly passenger” detained by fellow passengers and crew on board, officials said.
Flight 141 was en route from London’s Heathrow Airport to Los Angeles when the passenger became disruptive, a Virgin Atlantic spokesman said.
“The plane was diverted to Salt Lake City to be picked up by police,” they said.
A Salt Lake City Police Department spokesman said officers from the Airport Police Department were called to respond to the incident around 4:30 p.m. local time.
They said the unruly passenger was “physically held by other passengers and flight crew members”, but did not say whether charges had been filed in connection with the incident.
The flight was eventually able to proceed to Los Angeles, arriving about four hours behind schedule, the airline’s spokesman said, apologizing for the “inconvenience for customers on board.”
“The safety and well-being of our customers and crew is always our top priority and we will not tolerate behavior that endangers this,” the spokesperson said, adding that cabin crew were “highly trained to deal with individuals who may have impacts who experience for others.”
The airline denied previous reports that the unruly passenger had attempted to breach the plane’s cockpit.
The Federal Aviation Administration adopted a “zero tolerance” attitude against unruly passengers in January 2021 after what officials called a dramatic increase in violent or disruptive behavior on flights.
In 2021 alone, there were more 5,981 “unruly passenger reports,” most of which related to federal mask-wearing requirements due to the Covid pandemic, according to FAA data.
So far this year there are 1,701 reports of unruly passengers, as of Tuesday, with 582 investigations launched by the agency.
Airlines around the world have also experienced difficulties meeting consumer demand in recent months, largely due to staff shortages, extreme weather and Covid outbreaks among employees.