China-bound flight returns to Seattle after passenger assaults crew member

SEATTLE: A Delta Air Lines flight bound for Beijing returned to Seattle on Thursday after a passenger in the first-class cabin assaulted a flight attendant before being subdued by other travellers, a Seattle-Tacoma International Airport spokesman 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 (10am Malaysia), airport spokesman Perry Cooper said.

The male passenger was arrested by Port of Seattle Police Department officers, Cooper said.

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 Federal Bureau of Investigation was assisting police with the investigation, said FBI spokeswoman Ayn Dietrich.

Dietrich said the FBI was interviewing passengers and had no information to suggest the incident was a threat to national security.

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

Delta spokeswoman Liz Savadelis said by e-mail that the passenger was restrained on board 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. — Reuters