HOUSTON - A Southwest flight from Houston to Ohio had to make an emergency landing in Arkansas, during the busiest travel weekend of the year. The airline says the diversion happened because of an unruly passenger involved in an alleged assault onboard.
The Thanksgiving holiday marked the busiest travel period of the year with more than 2.3 million travelers flying in and out of Houston airports, the largest crowd since 2019 according to airport officials.
While most travelers reported having a smooth experience, passengers onboard Southwest Flight 192 were panicked when the captain announced it needed to make an emergency landing in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Cell phone video from a passenger onboard captures the moment law enforcement escorted an unnamed woman off the plane. The flight was heading from Houston to Columbus, Ohio on Saturday afternoon when crews had to divert because of an alleged assault.
Ding Yu was on board that flight when through the noise of his headphones, heard shouting from behind. Yu then witnessed several people run towards the back of the plane to help pin that woman to the ground and restrain her until the plane safely landed.
"They were rushing to the back of the plane to help. I was thinking about the worst case, probably that plane will crash, but I know it's a very low probability," Yu said.
What was supposed to be a three-hour flight turned into a six-hour delay.
Southwest Airlines says the diversion was protocol for crews dealing with an unruly passenger.
An FBI spokesperson says one passenger was taken to a hospital for treatment. The woman escorted off the plane was taken into federal custody and is expected to face charges, according to authorities.
In a statement, the FBI said, "FBI Little Rock is investigating an alleged incident which occurred on Southwest Flight 192 on November 26th. That flight, which originated in Houston (HOU), landed safely at 3:35 p.m. in Little Rock. Passengers have since departed from Little Rock to their original destination of Columbus, Ohio (CMH). One individual is in federal custody at this time, and a different passenger was taken to a local hospital for treatment.
An FBI Little Rock Airport Liaison Agent and other investigators are working closely with our partners at LRPD, the Little Rock airport, and Southwest Airlines. The FBI is the primary federal agency authorized to investigate potential assault aboard aircraft violations.
We will work closely with the prosecutors at the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Arkansas to thoroughly investigate this incident and potentially bring federal charges. I would direct any questions you have regarding potential charges to the USAO-EDAR."