Brawling couple force BA jumbo jet to divert

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The Independent Online

Air rage got personal when a brawl between a husband and wife forced a British Airways jumbo jet to make an unscheduled stop, writes Amy Anderson.

Air rage got personal when a brawl between a husband and wife forced a British Airways jumbo jet to make an unscheduled stop, writes Amy Anderson.

The pilot of BA flight 278 from Los Angeles to Heathrow landed in Chicago on Friday after an incident involving a couple in the economy class cabin raised safety concerns, British Airways said. The couple, from America, reportedly began throwing punches as the plane cruised at 30,000 feet over eastern Canada.

A male and a female passenger were escorted from the plane by Chicago police.

The plane, carrying 394 passengers and 16 crew, remained on the ground in Chicago for about an hour before continuing to Heathrow, where it landed three hours late. A BA spokeswoman said: "We will not tolerate violent and abusive behaviour, and have a responsibility to ensure that all our passengers have an enjoyable and safe flight."

She said that passenger disruptions serious enough to warrant an unscheduled landing have been "quite rare," although they have occurred "once or twice."

Airline initiatives - such as refusing to serve drinks to intoxicated passengers and staff training in dealing with unruly travellers - have substantially reduced the number of air rage incidents on BA flights, the spokeswoman said. BA recorded 122 such events from April 1998 to March 1999, against 266 during the previous 12 month period.

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