A Tokyo-bound United flight diverted to Anchorage earlier this week after a passenger told a flight attendant, “I will kill you” and slapped his face after he denied him more alcohol.
Seksan Kumtong began banging on lavatory doors shortly after takeoff of UA32, from Los Angeles to Tokyo last Sunday. He also pushed passengers aside to reach the front of the lavatory line. A flight attendant directed him to an open lavatory and he responded by attempting to shove the flight attendant (but missed).
Apparently he just received a warning, because he returned to his seat and was served alcohol with lunch. He fell asleep, but when he woke up a couple hours later he demanded another round of alcohol. A flight attendant declined and he demanded to speak to the purser.
The purser informed him that he must “slow down” on alcohol consumption. Kumtong responded in a fit of rage, slapping the purser in the face then attempted to strangle him by grabbing his necktie. At the same time, he yelled, “I will kill you!” and attempted to wrestle him to the floor.
Crew members and other passengers restrained him and the flight, which was in the air over seven hours, turned back toward the U.S. coast and eventually landed in Anchorage at 4:45PM local time.
Passengers were placed in hotel rooms and the flight continued to Narita the next day.
United’s only comment was:
“The safety and security of our employees and customers is our top priority. On Sunday, United flight 32 traveling from Los Angeles to Tokyo Narita diverted to Anchorage due to a disruptive customer. The flight landed safely and was met by local officials. The customer was removed and we worked to get customers on their way as soon as possible.”
Mark this as another chapter in my drunk passenger series. These stories always have a common theme: alcohol. I am glad that the purser was not hurt; that must have been quite jarring…