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Disruptive Passenger Forces Flight to Divert to Albuquerque

Delta Flight 81 was traveling from Atlanta to Los Angeles when the pilot landed in Albuquerque and police escorted a man off the jet Thursday.

A Delta Airlines flight from Atlanta to Los Angeles was diverted to an Albuquerque airport Thursday because of a disruptive passenger, an airport spokesman said.

The nature of the disturbance was not immediately available, but an Albuquerque International Sunport spokesman said in an email that the man was booted off of Delta flight 81 after it landed just after 6 p.m. local time (8 p.m. ET) but was not charged. A passenger on the plane, Lauri Springer, told NBC station KOB that the incident happened far in the front of the plane, where first-class passengers sit.

"We didn’t really know what was going on. There was no commotion, no yelling," said the college student, who planned to do some sightseeing in Los Angeles when her flight hit the unexpected snag. "We got about 20 minutes outside of Albuquerque and the pilot came on and said that we were going to be making an emergency landing in Albuquerque because of a security issue he was concerned with."

Police met the plane and escorted the passenger off. Airport spokesman Daniel Jiron said the man wouldn’t be charged but was not allowed back on the flight. The flight took off about 90 minutes after the unscheduled stop, Jiron said.


— Phil Helsel