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article imageEmergency landing at Dulles after passenger refuses instructions

By Leigh Goessl     Nov 9, 2012 in Travel
Dulles - Yesterday, a United Airlines flight declared an emergency when a passenger refused to follow a flight attendant's instructions regarding landing procedures. The man ignored staff and began praying in the aisle.
According to several local media reports, the incident occurred on United Airlines Flight 662 on Thursday night. WUSA-9 reported the call for emergency occurred just before 9 p.m.
The flight, from Denver to Dulles Airport, was getting ready to land at the Washington Metro airport when a male passenger refused to take his seat and began praying and yelling in the aisle.
"The flight declared an emergency because a passenger would not follow flight attendant instructions for landing," Megan McCarthy, a United spokeswoman, told CNN in a statement. It was reported McCarthy referred all other questions to law enforcement.
Several media reports indicated after the emergency call went out, the Boeing 757 aircraft was escorted by military jets, however other reports noted the planes were ready to go if needed.
"Out of an abundance of caution we scrambled two F-16s," Lt. Cmdr. Bill Lewis of the North American Aerospace Defense Command said, reported CNN.
WTOP News spoke to two passengers on the flight.
"Apparently at some point there he refused to sit down when the stewardess told him, and that was about the time we were coming in for approach," Christopher Haag told WTOP. "And then I guess she finally got him to sit down. He got back up, then he was mumbling, then kneeled down in the aisle and he started to pray, and about that time a bunch of other passengers went back and they subdued him."
The flight landed safely and all passengers were deplaned without further incident.
The other passenger, a female who preferred to remain anonymous, said the flight's attendant, "basically held him down in the aisle while we landed. It was an emergency landing. It was [a] straight, very fast taxi to the gate."
She described "a bunch of emergency vehicles" were readied at the airport gate and police boarded the plane once the door opened.
The man who caused the disturbance was suggested to have mental health issues; he was detained, removed from the plane in handcuffs and a wheelchair, and reportedly brought to a hospital for an evaluation.
Reportedly, the plane landed 13 minutes earlier than its scheduled arrival.
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