A flight attendant had to break a wine bottle over the head of a man who lunged for an exit door and fought with other passengers during a Delta Air Lines flight from Seattle to Beijing.
The passenger, Joseph Hudek, 23, from Florida, appeared in US District Court, after he was arrested on Thursday night after causing the disturbance that forced the plane to return to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, authorities say.
Hudek has been charged with interfering with a flight crew, which carries a possible sentence of up to 20 years in prison and a $US250,000 ($A328,657) fine. He is expected to remain in custody at least until a detention hearing on July 13.
One flight attendant and a passenger were taken to a hospital after suffering severe facial injuries.
FBI special agent Caryn Highley said Hudek was sitting in the first row of the Boeing 767’s first-class section. He asked a flight attendant for a beer before takeoff, and was served one, but he exhibited no sign of being intoxicated and ordered no other alcoholic drinks, the attendant told authorities.
About an hour into the flight, while the plane was over the Pacific Ocean northwest of Vancouver Island, Hudek went into the forward restroom. He came out quickly, asked the attendant a question, and went back in, the agent wrote.
When he came out again two minutes later, he suddenly lunged for the exit door, grabbed the handle and tried to open it, Highley wrote. Two attendants grabbed him, but he pushed them away, and the attendants signaled for help from several passengers and notified the cockpit by telephone, the complaint said.
Hudek punched one flight attendant twice in the face and struck at least one passenger in the head with a red dessert wine bottle, it said.
As the struggle continued, a flight attendant grabbed two wine bottles and hit Hudek over the head with each – breaking at least one of them, Highley wrote.
According to one flight attendant, “Hudek did not seem affected by the breaking of a full one litre red wine bottle over his head, and instead shouted, ‘Do you know who I am?’ or something to that extent,” the complaint said.
One passenger got him in a head-lock, but he broke out of it, until finally several passengers held him long enough to place zip-tie restraints on him, Highley wrote. Even then he remained combative, she said, and it took multiple passengers to keep him restrained until the plane landed and Port of Seattle police arrested him.
The flight left for Beijing later Thursday night.
(The man) did not seem affected by the breaking of a full one litre red wine bottle over his head, and instead shouted, ‘Do you know who I am?’