Flight from London to LA diverted to Salt Lake City due to unruly passenger

A Virgin Atlantic flight from London to Los Angeles was diverted to Salt Lake City in Utah on Tuesday due to an “unruly passenger” who was detained by fellow passengers and crew members onboard, officials said.

Flight 141 had been headed from London’s Heathrow Airport to Los Angeles when the passenger became disruptive, a spokesperson for Virgin Atlantic said.

“The aircraft diverted to Salt Lake City to be met by police authorities,” they said.

A spokesperson for the Salt Lake City Police Department said officers with the force’s airport division were called to respond to the incident at around 4:30 pm local time.

They said the unruly passenger had been “physically detained by other passengers and flight crew members,” but did not say if any charges had been filed in connection with the incident.

The flight was eventually able to continue to LA, arriving approximately four hours behind schedule, the airline spokesperson said, apologizing for the “inconvenience caused to customers onboard.”

“The safety and wellbeing of our customers and crew is always our top priority and we don’t tolerate any behavior that compromises this,” they said, adding that the cabin crew was “highly trained to deal with any individuals that may impact that experience for others.”

The airline denied earlier reports that suggested the unruly passenger had tried to breach the cockpit of the aircraft.

The Federal Aviation Administration adopted a “zero tolerance” stance 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 involved federal requirements for face masks be worn due to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to FAA data.

So far this year, there have been 1,701 reports of unruly passengers, as of Tuesday, with 582 investigations initiated by the FAA.

Airlines around the world have also faced difficulties in keeping up with consumer demand in recent months, largely due to staffing shortages, extreme weather and Covid-19 outbreaks among workers.

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