By Steve Gorman
(Reuters) – The U.S. military on Friday scrambled two Air Force fighter jets to escort an American Airlines flight into Honolulu International Airport after a disturbance was reported on board, a Pacific Command spokesman said.
Neither the military nor American Airlines immediately disclosed the nature of the disturbance, but local news media reported that a passenger had tried to force his way into the cockpit of the Honolulu-bound flight from Los Angeles.
HawaiiNewsNow, a consortium of three television network affiliates, said an airline crew member and an off-duty Honolulu police officer subdued the unruly passenger.
Citing unnamed sources, the news outlet also reported that the male passenger was Turkish and had earlier breached security at Los Angeles International Airport but “was assessed and allowed to board” the flight anyway.
Details of those media reports could not be immediately confirmed by Reuters.
American Airlines confirmed that the crew of Flight 31 from Los Angeles to Honolulu had requested that law enforcement meet the aircraft, an Airbus A321, upon landing due to an unspecified “disturbance during the flight.”
The airline said its plane, carrying 181 passengers and six crew members, landed safely at 11:35 a.m. Hawaii time. No injuries were reported.
Mobile phone video footage taken by a passenger after the plane was on the ground and posted on social media showed a man being led down the aisle of the aircraft in handcuffs by Federal Bureau of Investigation personnel.
One passenger who spoke to HawaiiNewsNow said a first-class flight attendant deserved much of the credit for preventing the suspect from reaching the cockpit.
“I would just never want to go against her. She was tasked with keeping him out of there, and she did a great job,” Lee Lorenzen told the news outlook.
The incident also prompted Pacific Command to dispatch a pair of F-22 fighter jets to intercept the passenger plane.
“The F-22s escorted the airliner to the airport in accordance with homeland defense procedures. Local law enforcement responded once the civilian airliner was on the ground,” said Commander Dave Benham.
(Reporting by Phil Stewart in Washington and Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; editing by Diane Craft and Cynthia Osterman)