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Delta flight returns to Seattle after passenger assaults flight attendant

  • A Delta flight headed from Seattle to Beijing had to return to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport late Thursday night after a passenger assaulted a flight attendant.
  • The man, age 23, was sitting in first class and attacked the flight attendant about 45 minutes into the flight.
  • Other passengers helped to restrain the man, who was arrested when the plane landed.
Delta Airlines passenger planes at Salt Lake City International Airport in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Robert Alexander | Getty Images
Delta Airlines passenger planes at Salt Lake City International Airport in Salt Lake City, Utah.

A Delta Air Lines flight headed from Seattle to Beijing had to return to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport late Thursday night after a passenger assaulted a flight attendant.

Airport spokesman Perry Cooper said the man, age 23, was sitting in first class and attacked the flight attendant about 45 minutes into Delta Flight 129.

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Cooper said other passengers helped to restrain the man, who was arrested when the plane landed. The flight attendant and one other person were injured. They were taken to a hospital.

"The passenger was restrained onboard and was removed from the flight by law enforcement without further incident when the aircraft arrived back in Seattle," Delta told USA TODAY in a statement. The flight later left for Beijing again.

Passenger Dustin Jones heard the scuffle.

"One of the flight attendants ran back and said there was a Code 3," he told KIRO-TV. "There was a serious fight up front."

Jones said the handcuffed, zip-tied man was taken into the terminal in a wheelchair after the plane landed.

"He started yelling for help," Jones said. "And so he turned the wheelchair over in the middle of the airport, screaming for people to help him, just being belligerent."

The incident is not thought to be a national security threat.

Contributing: The Associated Press; KING-TV, Seattle