‘Disruptive’ passenger forces London-bound flight back to Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Monday, 11 August, 2014, 9:08am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 12 August, 2014, 10:20am

A rowdy passenger was in custody yesterday after forcing a London-bound Virgin Atlantic flight to head back to Hong Kong, where he was promptly arrested.

The plane had travelled about 1,000km before pilots decided to head back to the city in the early hours of yesterday.

Hong Kong police said a 26-year old man identified only as "Robert" began shouting during the flight and ignored the flight attendants' requests to calm down.

The plane's crew alerted air traffic control, who in turn notified the police. The man was arrested and detained, but no charge has been filed against him as of 6pm last night, according to a police source.

"He was accused of singing, shouting and waving his hands in his seat," a police source said. "He allegedly pushed away a flight attendant while being asked to calm down."

A Virgin Atlantic statement confirmed that flight VS201 had returned to Hong Kong and "was met by authorities on arrival". The airline "does not tolerate disruptive behaviour by passengers", it said.

The aircraft made a U-turn above Sichuan province and started the 1,000-kilometre journey back to its departure point.

The Airbus A340 entered Hong Kong airspace about 3am, before landing at 3.40am.

The man, who police said was a foreign citizen, was arrested upon landing for violating the Aviation Security Ordinance and was taken to Princess Margaret Hospital.

The Airport Authority confirmed the return of the flight, but declined to provide any further information.

Virgin Atlantic said 240 passengers and 16 crew were on board the four-engine jet. The remaining passengers were offered accommodation in Hong Kong and the aircraft was due to depart later in day.

It was originally scheduled to arrive in London at 5.25am local time.

Additional reporting by Clifford Lo