Woman passenger headbutts stewardess

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The Independent Online

A pilot was forced to circle above Manchester for half an hour yesterday while his crew restrained a female passenger who allegedly headbutted a stewardess and later broke out of a lavatory where she is understood to have been detained in handcuffs.

A pilot was forced to circle above Manchester for half an hour yesterday while his crew restrained a female passenger who allegedly headbutted a stewardess and later broke out of a lavatory where she is understood to have been detained in handcuffs.

A 26-year-old woman was arrested after the alleged incident on an Airtours International flight carrying 360 passengers overnight from Orlando to Manchester.

The plane, an Airbus A330, was over the Atlantic when the woman, who was travelling with her nine-year-old son, another woman and a teenager, allegedly became disruptive. Passengers described how she had complained about a crying baby and demanded earplugs before trying to light a cigarette in a lavatory.

When stewardesses tried to stop her smoking she had to be tackled by cabin crew and two passengers, restrained with plastic handcuffs - part of a standard issue Civil Aviation Authority restraint kit - and held in the cubicle.

As the pilot was preparing to land, the woman, from Withington, Manchester, broke out of the toilet, causing a second fracas that delayed the landing.

Vanessa Martinez, 28, the stewardess who was allegedly head-butted, was treated for facial injuries at Wythenshaw Hospital, Manchester.

Chief Inspector Gill Mellor, of Manchester airport police, said: "Initially the aircraft was out over the Atlantic and the captain had to take the decision whether to return to Orlando or continue. On approach to landing, because of the woman's behaviour, a lot of passengers were up out of their seats and [he] was forced to abandon his initial attempts to land, circling to give the crew time to restrain her again."

Eric Davey, 50, from Lancashire, who was sitting in front of the woman, said: "It was even worse when we thought we would have to divert to Shannon Airport in southernIreland or Reykjavik."

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