LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A Virgin America flight bound to Los Angeles from Boston was diverted Monday morning after a passenger became agitated and had to be subdued.
The passenger, who was not identified, apparently lunged for the emergency exit at one point, forcing the crew to divert the plane to Omaha, CBS2/KCAL9’s Randy Paige reported. The passenger was wearing a hospital bracelet and apparently was having mental problems.
Los Angeles-based filmmakers Sam Slater and Paul Bernon were sitting in the row in front of the man.
“He asked if he could use the restroom, he had been mumbling about not trying to be violent, and how I don’t want to be a violent person. And we’re sitting in the front row, and we’re both a little concerned and watching what’s happening,” Slater said.
Bernon said the situation seemed to escalate after the man returned from the restroom.
“When he came out of the bathroom, he sat back down, he was arguing with the woman next to him, said he didn’t want to sit next to her,” Bernon said. “He got back up, told the attendant he wanted her to move, and at that point they paged to see if there was a doctor on board.”
Slater said after a doctor took the man’s blood pressure, they cleared a row in the back of the plane, where they isolated him.
“He at that point was fidgeting and began to remove the plastic covering from the emergency exit door, and tried to pull to open the door,” Slater said. “Fortunately there were a couple of Boston police officers on the flight that were there to help as well. And that’s where we realized that we weren’t going to make it to Los Angeles and we had to land in Omaha.”
The FAA released a statement about the in-flight scare:
“The flight crew of Virgin America flight 363, an Airbus A-319 flying from Boston to Los Angeles, requested to divert to Omaha because of what they described as a medical emergency. The aircraft landed in Omaha without incident,” the agency said.
Virgin also issued a statement, saying 108 passengers were on board, and there was a “medical incident” involving a guest.
The passenger was taken to a nearby hospital.
No injuries were reported.
Flight 363 later resumed operation to Los Angeles International Airport.