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Plane turns back as ranting Robert loses control

August 14, 2014 Aviation, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59More has emerged about an incident in which a Virgin Atlantic A340 had to make a U-turn and head back to Hong Kong 90 minutes into a flight, after a passenger named Robert started ranting and wouldn’t stop.

Passengers have described a man roaming the plane “shouting and ranting”, sometimes aggressively. Other reports speak of him singing, shouting and waving his hands in his seat. Most agree that at one point he tried to wrench open one of the aircraft doors.

A teacher from England aboard the flight told the Daily Mail passengers became “hysterical” as ranting Robert roamed around.

The captain of flight VS201 considered the man enough of a problem to turn the flight back. Robert was said to have started behaving aggressively towards crew. He allegedly pushed away a flight attendant while being asked to calm down, a police source told Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post.

Crew used straps to restrain the roaming ranter after he started “losing control and failing to follow instructions from staff”.

The plane had taken off at about midnight, so passengers just wanted some sleep. When the ranter refused to calm down, crew took the decision to return to Hong Kong rather than subject other passengers to hours of disruption, the police source said.

The experience followed severe turbulence, passengers related. The plane had to circle Hong Kong for some time before landing and many passengers “were hysterical by this stage, especially the ones with children”.

When the flight landed, police boarded the plane and escorted Robert off.

“The foreign man called Robert, who is 26 years old, lost control on board and didn’t follow instructions from staff on the flight,” a police spokesman told AFP news agency.

The BBC reported Hong Hong authorities saying the man had been arrested for violating the Aviation Security Ordinance and sent to hospital.

Virgin issued the routine statement: “Virgin Atlantic does not tolerate disruptive behaviour by passengers on-board and the safety and welfare of our passengers and crew is the airline’s top priority.”

Ranting Robert delayed the passengers by at least a day.

As the South China Morning Post pointed out: “The incident is likely to cost Virgin hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong dollars in wasted fuel, salaries, airport costs, passenger accommodation and a rescheduled flight.”

Written by : Peter Needham

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