A Delta flight was diverted overnight to Oklahoma City after a passenger was accused of being drunk and of assaulting a flight attendant, police reported.
Derek Maas, 28, of Clearview, Utah, was arrested on a complaint of public drunkenness.
Shortly after 1:45 a.m. Friday, a Delta flight made an emergency landing to Will Rogers World Airport due to a violent and unruly passenger, according to an Oklahoma City police incident report.
The flight was originally flying from Salt Lake City to Orlando, Florida. A flight attendant told police the passenger head-butted him after he refused to service the passenger any more alcoholic beverages.
The passenger also became verbally abusive toward another flight attendant after she refused to serve him more alcohol, the flight attendant told police.
Police said several passengers jumped in to help the attendants control the intoxicated passenger.
The unruly passenger was restrained but the captain determined he needed the passenger to be removed from the flight to ensure the safety of everyone else on the flight, according to the police report.
Police said Maas's hands were secured behind him in zip cuffs and he was very unsteady on his feet, had red, watery eyes and apparently lost his balance. The arresting officer said "the odor of an alcoholic beverage on his breath was nearly overpowering."
Maas was taken to the Oklahoma County jail because officers thought he would become more violent or destructive if he remained at the airport.
While he was taking Maas to the jail, the arresting officer said he had "to crack a window for fresh air" due to odor from the alcohol.
Oklahoma City police referred the case to the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI, so Maas may face a federal charge.
“Thankfully nobody was really injured,” said Knight. “Very frightening experience, I’m sure for the people who were on the plane.”
Delta Airlines sent the following statement regarding the incident:
“Delta applauds the quick action and professionalism of the crew of Delta flight 2603 operating from Salt Lake City to Orlando which diverted to Oklahoma City after a customer became unruly and violent on board. The crew restrained the customer and the flight was met by law enforcement in Oklahoma City, where he was removed and taken into custody. The flight continued to Orlando, arriving two hours past schedule. The safety and security of our customers and crew are always Delta’s top priority.”