Swiss Airlines flight forced to return to airport after unruly passenger tried to enter cockpit, airline says

April 4, 2024
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Unruly passengers still an issue on flights


Flight incidents involving unruly passengers still higher than pre-pandemic levels

03:52

A Swiss Airlines flight traveling from New Jersey to Switzerland had to turn back and make an emergency landing because an unruly passenger attempted to enter the cockpit, the airline said. 

Swiss Airlines said in a news release that Flight 19, which was traveling from Newark Liberty International Airport to Zurich, Switzerland on March 31, had to return to the airport shortly after taking off around 9:50 p.m. 

The passenger, who was not named, “behaved abusively towards the crew,” Swiss Airlines said. Swiss Airlines said that one member of the cabin crew suffered minor injuries during the incident. 

The pilot told air traffic controllers that the passenger was “getting worse” and had tried to enter the cockpit, according to air traffic control audio reviewed by CBS News. 

“We don’t know if he can get aggressive toward passengers or crew,” the pilot said, adding that the passenger was “freely moving in the cabin.” 

The flight landed back at Newark Liberty International Airport around 11 p.m., the Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement. There were 236 passengers on board the Airbus A330, according to Swiss Airlines, along with 13 crew members. All of the passengers were rebooked on other flights, Swiss Airlines said. The crew, including the injured cabin crew member, also traveled back to Switzerland. 

New Jersey Port Authority police arrested the passenger and charged him with interference with transportation and assault. The passenger was released with a court desk appearance, the agency said in a statement. 

The FAA will investigate the incident. 

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