United Flight Diverted to Charlotte to Oust Unruly Man

A United Airlines flight with 117 passengers was diverted to Charlotte Friday night to remove a passenger who appeared intoxicated and became unruly, airline officials said.

The man, whose name airline officials did not release, lit a cigarette, argued with a flight attendant and urinated in an aisle during Flight 1502 from Orlando, Fla., to Washington, D.C., United Airlines spokeswoman Robin Urbanski said. The plane landed in Charlotte at 8:15.

Charlotte/Douglas International Airport director Jerry Orr said the man was taken into custody by federal authorities, who did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

Flight attendants noticed that the man appeared drunk not long after the plane left Orlando at 6:30 p.m., Urbanski said. He later lit a cigarette and began to argue with a flight attendant when asked to put it out, she said.

He complied, but when the flight attendant walked away, he stood up and urinated.

The behavior was "extremely inappropriate," Urbanski said. "We had to divert the plane for the safety and respect of other passengers."

The plane was in Charlotte for 23 minutes. It landed safely at Washington's Dulles International Airport at 9:50 p.m., according to United's Web site.

Orr said it's infrequent that federal air marshals have to restrain and remove a passenger.

In March 2003, a US Airways flight from New York to New Orleans was diverted to Charlotte after sky marshals restrained a man who had headed for an exit after shouting "Majority rules! Turn the plane around!" Richard Perez, 31, was sentenced to 18 months in a federal prison.

Charlotte Observer

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