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Passenger accused of running naked through Virgin Australia airliner mid-flight, knocking down crew member

Unruly passengers still an issue on flights
Flight incidents involving unruly passengers still higher than pre-pandemic levels 03:52

A man accused of running naked down the aisle of an Australian domestic flight, knocking down a flight attendant and forcing the plane to turn back, was arrested by police at the airport, officials said on Tuesday.

The incident happened early in what was scheduled to be a 3 hour and 30 minute Virgin Australia flight on Monday night from the west coast city of Perth to Melbourne on the east coast. The plane made a U-turn about an hour into its flight, according to flight-tracking site, FlightAware.

Flight VA696 returned to Perth Airport due to a "disruptive passenger," an airline statement said.

Australian Federal Police officers were waiting for the plane and "the disruptive guest was offloaded," Virgin said.

Police said "officers arrested a man after he allegedly ran naked through the aircraft mid-flight and knocked a crew member to the floor."

"The man was transferred to hospital for assessment, where he remains," a police statement said.

It was not clear how or where on the plane the passenger removed his clothes.

Police expect to order the man by summons to appear in a Perth court on June 14. What charges he will face have yet to be finalized.

The airline apologized to "guests impacted," adding the safety of passengers and crew was its top priority.

Both the airline and police declined comment beyond their statements.

Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported that nobody was injured during the incident. The man is expected to appear in court next month, the outlet reported.

Virgin Australia Said to Weigh Debt Financing Plan Ahead of IPO
A Boeing Co. 737 aircraft operated by Virgin Australia Holdings Pty Ltd. at Sydney Airport in Sydney, Australia, on Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2023.  Brendon Thorne/Bloomberg via Getty Images

In 2018, an Alaska Airlines flight to Seattle was forced to return to Anchorage after a passenger locked himself in the bathroom, took off all his clothes, and refused to follow crew instructions.

Bad behavior on flights surged during the pandemic, with tensions running high among passengers and flight crew over issues like mask-wearing. 

In 2022, the FAA announced it was making permanent a zero-tolerance policy against unruly passengers. 

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