Disruptive passenger forces Spirit Airlines flight to make emergency landing in Houston


(CBS/AP) HOUSTON - A disruptive passenger on a Spirit Airlines flight from Los Angeles to Fort Lauderdale forced a pilot to make an emergency landing at Bush Intercontinental Airport.

Police said an 86-year-old partially blind man who cannot speak English became unruly onboard a Spirit Airlines flight to Florida, compelling the pilot to divert to Houston.

Spirit Airlines says Flight 310 from Los Angeles to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., landed at George Bush Intercontinental Airport early Sunday due to a "disruptive customer."

According to CBS affiliate KHOU in Houston, because of the emergency landing, passengers on the flight were stuck in Houston with at least a 10-hour flight delay. After spending an hour on the tarmac, they were forced to wait about 10 hours in the terminal with no food or opportunity to ask for more information. Part of the problem was that Spirit airlines did not have a station set up at Bush Intercontinental Airport.

One passenger told KHOU that they had to rely on the departure and arrivals board for information, which just kept adding an additional hour to their expected re-departure time.

Police spokesman Kese Smith said Monday the man apparently spoke only French and was traveling alone. Smith said he became frightened and swung at other passengers. Police found an interpreter and contacted the man's son, who flew to Houston and accompanied his father to Florida.

Smith did not provide the man's name.

Spirit spokeswoman Misty Pinson says the other passengers were assigned to a new flight on Sunday and that they will be refunded for the inconvenience.