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American passenger detained after biting flight attendant mid‑air

By Jake Beardslee · January 17, 2024

In brief…

  • American passenger allegedly bit female flight attendant mid-flight on ANA plane from Tokyo to Seattle
  • Plane turned around and returned to Tokyo over an hour into journey
  • Passenger detained by police after landing, flight attendant sustained minor injuries
  • Latest in series of unruly passenger incidents on flights over past year
An American man was arrested in Tokyo for allegedly biting a female flight attendant mid-air on an ANA flight bound for Seattle, forcing the plane to turn around.  Pedro Aragão/Wikimedia

An American airline passenger has been detained by Japanese police after allegedly biting a female flight attendant mid-air, forcing their Tokyo-bound flight to turn around over the Pacific Ocean on Tuesday night, according to CNN.

The incident occurred onboard All Nippon Airways (ANA) Flight 118, which left Tokyo’s Haneda Airport at 9:47 p.m. local time, according to the airline spokesperson. The Boeing 777 aircraft was scheduled to fly direct to Seattle, but made a u-turn back to Tokyo a little over an hour into the journey, flight tracking data showed.

The airline spokesperson told CNN that the male passenger bit the female cabin crew member, causing her minor injuries. No further details were provided on the alleged assailant.

Upon landing back in Tokyo, the man was taken into police custody for questioning while the injured flight attendant received medical treatment. The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department declined to provide more information about the mid-air biting case.

This latest incident comes after a spate of disruptive passenger behavior on U.S. carriers in 2022. In August, the Federal Aviation Administration issued its largest-ever fines of $81,950 and $77,272 to two passengers for acting out violently on separate flights. One man was fined for allegedly punching a flight attendant and trying to open an aircraft door mid-flight.

So far this month, there have already been reports of unruly passengers on U.S. flights, including an American Airlines plane that had to be diverted on January 3 due to a passenger allegedly assaulting crew members.

The FAA reported nearly 6,000 unruly passenger incidents in 2021. Air travel disruptions have continued into 2023, causing headaches for airlines and concerns over passenger and crew safety.