Unruly passenger forces London to Los Angeles flight to divert to Salt Lake City

William Stephen Hayes, 39, of the United Kingdom, was subsequently arrested at the Salt Lake City airport on suspicion of being violent and unruly on an international flight, Salt Lake City Police said in a press release.

CNN has not been able to determine whether Hayes has been given a lawyer. He was being held in a Salt Lake County jail, police said Wednesday.

Investigators tentatively believe that Hayes, a passenger on Virgin Atlantic Flight 141, became upset during the flight and then turned violent “after several attempts by the flight crew to maintain order,” the police news report reads.

The flight crew and passengers then stopped him, police said.

“While he was being held, Hayes allegedly assaulted the flight crew and at least one other passenger, resulting in minor injuries,” the Salt Lake City Police Department said. He is also accused of kicking airplane seats and windows while he was being held, although the airline staff did not find any damage upon inspection, police said.

The plane landed in Salt Lake City just after 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, according to FlightAware.com. Passengers and flight crews were still restraining Hayes when police and U.S. customs and border guards met the flight crew at the airport, Salt Lake City police said.

An investigation was underway on Wednesday and will be referred to federal prosecutors, police said.

According to the US Attorney’s Office for Utah, a first court hearing for Hayes was scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.

After landing in Salt Lake City, the flight continued on to Los Angeles, landing about four hours after its scheduled arrival, Virgin Atlantic said.

FAA numbers confirm - 2021 was terrible for bad behavior in the air

“The safety and well-being of our customers and crew is always our top priority and we will not tolerate behavior that endangers it,” the airline said. “We always want our customers to have the best experience when flying with us and our cabin crew are well trained to deal with individuals who can influence that experience for others.”

According to FAA data, 1,701 reports of unruly passengers have been made to the Federal Aviation Administration so far this year and 582 investigations have been launched.
Last year was the worst year for unruly airline passenger behavior in the US, according to FAA data. In 2021, there were 5,981 reports of unruly passengers and 1,113 investigations were launched.

CNN’s Jason Hanna and Marnie Hunter contributed to this report.

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