A United Airline passenger remains in federal custody Friday accused of interfering with crew members after allegedly grabbing, hitting and attempting to push the lead flight attendant on an intercontinental United Airlines flight to the floor. If convicted, the disruptive passenger faces up to 20-years in prison.
United Airlines flight UA32 departed Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on Sunday morning bound for Tokyo Narita Airport (NRT) in Japan. But several hours into the 11-hour flight, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner had been forced to divert to Anchorage in Alaska.
In an affidavit, the FBI alleges that Seksan Kumtong had been acting strangely shortly after the flight departed LAX. Crew members saw him banging on the doors of occupied lavatories and trying to push past other passengers to get into a lavatory,
Flight attendants initially attempted to calm down the “unruly” and shouting Kumtong and even let the flight continue when he tried to push one of the crew. Flight attendants warned him not to shout or to touch crew members.
After “continued behavioural issues” the crew then decided to stop serving him alcohol. But after waking up from a short nap, Kumtong went to the galley looking for more alcohol. When refused, he’s alleged to have become agitated before striking the lead flight attendant in the face.
“Kumtong grabbed the lead flight attendant by the neck and tie and attempted to push the lead flight attendant to the floor. While doing this, Kumtong yelled obscenities and ‘I will kill you’,” the affidavit continued.
Other passengers waded into the melee helping the flight attendants restrain Kumtong, while the pilots diverted the plane to Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. On arrival, Kumtong was taken into custody the airport police.
“The safety and security of our employees and customers is our top priority,” United Airlines said in a statement.
“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,” the statement continued.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.