Flight to LAX diverted after unruly passenger assaults flight attendant, police say


A Delta Air Lines flight headed to LAX from Washington D.C. had to be diverted after authorities say an unruly passenger assaulted a flight attendant Thursday.

It was unclear what prompted the incident, but at some point during the flight, a male passenger became upset and got into an altercation with a flight attendant, Oklahoma City Police Department Capt. Arthur Gregory confirmed.

A U.S. air marshal intervened and had the passenger in custody when the flight, which had to be diverted to Oklahoma City, landed at Will Rogers World Airport, Gregory said.

Oklahoma City police officers escorted the suspect off the plane and detained him until the FBI arrived to question him.

The suspect was later identified as 35-year-old Ariel Pennington.

Pennington was booked into the Oklahoma County Detention Center on suspicion of disorderly conduct and public drunkenness.

He was bonded out after spending about 5 hours in jail and paying $334 in fines.

After being delayed for several hours, the flight finally made its way to LAX and touched down around 10:30 p.m.

There was no immediate word whether any injuries were suffered by the flight attendant or the air marshal who intervened.

The FBI is expected to file charges in the case, Gregory said.

The incident comes amid a recent surge of unruly passengers disrupting flights.

The Federal Aviation Administration says there has been more than 5,500 reported cases this year.

Nearly 4,000 of those involved mask incidents, according to the FAA, which launched a zero-tolerance policy regarding unruly passengers in July.

The policy has led to increased fines and some passengers have been charged with federal crimes.

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