Intoxicated Passenger Removed From Plane After Threatening Crew: Airline

An airline spokesperson said the passenger became agitated and verbally abusive. At one point, she said, he threatened the flight crew.

An Alaska Airlines flight from Boston to San Diego was diverted to Denver after an intoxicated passenger became disruptive and threatened crew members, according to airline spokeswoman Ann Zaninovich.

The male passenger was sitting in aisle 13 on Flight 769, Zaninovich said. Flight attendants told him to calm down, but he became agitated and verbally abusive. At one point, she said, he threatened the flight crew. 

Bridget Sullivan, a 17-year-old high school student from Wilmington, Massachusetts, told NBC the unruly passenger "would not stay seated during the flight and he kept his sunglasses on the whole time." According to Sullivan, "the word spread around the plane that the man was on drugs or something similar."

Sullivan said the beverage cart was placed next to his seat to prevent the man from getting up.

She said passengers were not informed they would be landing in Denver because the flight crew didn't want the disruptive man to know he would be escorted off.

There was a law enforcement officer on board, Zaninovich said, but it's unclear if he played a role. 

When the situation escalated, the flight captain decided to land at the closest airport, Denver International Airport, "out of an abundance of caution," according to Zaninovich. 

The plane landed safely around 8:30 p.m. MT, according to Denver Airport spokesman Heath Montgomery. Denver Airport Police met the flight at the gate and removed the passenger, Zaninovich said. 

The Transportation Safety Administration also responded but deemed the incident a "customer service issue," according to Montgomery.

Flight 769 continued on to San Diego after 45 minutes in Denver and was expected to land at 10:50 p.m. PT. 

Montgomery said no charges were filed in connection with the incident.

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