Last updated: 11:20 AM ET, Fri July 24 2015

US Airways Flight Diverted After Unruly Passenger is Restrained

Impacting Travel | Patrick Clarke | July 24, 2015

US Airways Flight Diverted After Unruly Passenger is Restrained

A US Airways flight traveling from Charlotte, North Carolina to London was forced to divert to Philadelphia early Wednesday morning after an unruly passenger became physically aggressive and had to be restrained by passengers and flight crew, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

A criminal complaint filed this week alleges that 41-year-old Sarah Buffett was sitting in first class when she became aggressive and started damaging her seat after drinking several glasses of wine and taking a Zaleplon prescription pill. She then allegedly attempted to smash one of the plane's windows using a remote and behaved menacingly in front of the plane's cockpit door. 

Passengers assisted flight attendants in restraining Buffett, who broke free from plastic restraints several times before having her legs taped together. 

Buffett was escorted off the plane by police in Philadelphia shortly before 5 a.m. Wednesday. She was subsequently charged with intimidating a flight crew member and other related federal offenses. 

Passengers aboard the trans-Atlantic flight were told the flight would be canceled because of a required shift change. "We apologize to our customers, and have re-accommodated them on alternate flights," said American Airlines in a statement. 

"It just inconvenienced everybody — 200-plus people were completely inconvenienced," passenger Carly Sergent told the Inquirer. "One woman was going to her sister's funeral. A bunch of people were going on cruises of a lifetime, and they were going to miss their connections. What we came away with was how one person can go on a plane, take this medication, and ruin over 200 people's trips."

Law firm Nelson Mullins, where Buffett works as a partner, issued a statement on the incident to the ABA Journal, saying it "is sympathetic to the inconvenience suffered by the passengers and crew of US Airways Flight 732" and that Buffett "has been suspended pending an investigation."

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