Video: Unruly passenger arrested in Denver

updated 1/12/2010 6:28:27 PM ET 2010-01-12T23:28:27

Military jets scrambled for a second time this week after a report of a disruptive passenger on a commercial flight.

The Colorado-based North American Aerospace Defense Command says two F-16s launched at 11:44 a.m. Friday after reports of an unruly passenger on AirTran Airways Flight 39 from Atlanta to San Francisco.

Stacey Knott of NORAD says the F-16 jets arrived over Colorado Springs Airport as the AirTran pilot landed there around noon, and Colorado Springs police met the plane. She didn't disclose details of what prompted NORAD to scramble the fighters.

On Wednesday, NORAD sent two F-15 fighters to escort a commercial jetliner bound for Hawaii back to Portland, Ore., after a report of a disruptive passenger.

Disruptive passengers caused two commercial airplanes to be diverted Friday, with military jets scrambling to escort a San Francisco-bound flight into a U.S. airport, authorities said.

The latest pair of incidents come amid heightened concern over airline security after a Nigerian man allegedly tried to blow up a Detroit-bound Northwest Airlines plane on Christmas Day.

Two F-16s were launched at 11:44 a.m. (1644 GMT) to catch up with AirTran Airways Flight 39 from Atlanta to San Francisco after a report that an intoxicated passenger had locked himself in a bathroom, the Colorado-based North American Aerospace Defense Command said.

The jets arrived over Colorado Springs Airport as the captain — who AirTran said had decided to divert the plane — landed there around noon, NORAD spokeswoman Stacey Knott said.

Colorado Springs police detained the passenger, who allegedly refused to follow flight crew instructions to take his seat before locking himself in a lavatory. Canine teams searched the airplane, and the flight was cleared to continue to San Francisco.

Also Friday, a Hawaii-bound flight had to change course and land in Los Angeles after a man was accused of harassing a woman. The man was removed from the jet that departed Las Vegas early Friday.

The man was interviewed and released after the woman declined to press charges, Los Angeles airport police Sgt. Jim Holcomb said. The exact nature of the disruption or whether the passengers knew each other wasn't known, Holcomb said.

The Hawaiian Airlines flight resumed to Honolulu and arrived three hours late.

It was the second time this week a flight to Hawaii had to change course because of an onboard disruption. On Wednesday, a Maui-bound Hawaiian Airlines flight from Portland, Oregon, was turned around and escorted by two F-15 military fighters because of an uncooperative passenger.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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