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SEATAC, Wash. – A Delta Air Lines flight from Seattle to Beijing had to return back to Sea-Tac Airport Thursday evening after a security incident with a passenger.


Sea-Tac Airport spokesman Perry Cooper said 45 minutes after the 5:30 p.m. departure of Delta Flight 129, there was an in-flight disturbance in the first-class cabin, where a passenger assaulted a flight attendant.

Multiple passengers helped subdue the passenger.

One of those passengers, who did not want to share his name, said the man started pacing at first.

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“He was going back and forth to the bathroom and then he started going toward the exit door,” he said.

He said the flight attendant then tried to stop him but was punched. Another passenger got up to help.

“They broke two bottles of wine on his head,” he said, “I tried to choke him and he just threw me off like a rag doll.”

The passenger told KIRO 7 the man said he needed air.

The flight turned around and landed at Sea-Tac at 7:10 p.m.

Two people were taken to the hospital to be treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

“Somebody that was working had blood on their shirt,” said Britteny Gardner, who was on the flight.

Gardner said that in the main cabin, they heard an announcement asking for a doctor.

Later, they were told there was a security incident, and that they needed to return to Sea-Tac.

Dustin Jones, who was seated directly behind the curtains separating first class from the rest of the plane, said he could tell a scuffle was going on.

“One of the flight attendants ran back and said there was a Code 3. There was a serious fight up front,” Jones said.

Jones said after they had landed back at Sea-Tac, he saw the man handcuffed and zip tied, being rolled out into the terminal in a wheelchair.

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

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Cooper said federal officials took the suspect into custody and the FBI is investigating.

Delta released this statement:

“Flight 129 returned to Seattle following a security incident with a passenger. The passenger was restrained onboard and was removed from the flight by law enforcement without further incident when the aircraft arrived back in Seattle. The flight is scheduled to re-depart for Beijing later this evening.”

The FBI told Sea-Tac officials there is no information that the incident is a national security threat.

Passenger Glen Wang said everyone handled the situation well.

“No commotion, and the whole flight was really quiet, very nice, and everything’s in order. Actually, I think we did a good job,” Wang said.

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