‘SCARY PASSENGER’: Israel-bound flight makes emergency landing

Passenger who cursed, screamed, and threatened to crash the plane forces emergency landing at airport in Madrid; flight eventually continues on to Israel without him.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

An out-of-control passenger who created a major disturbance upon a flight from New York to Tel Aviv forced the plane to make an emergency landing in Madrid, Spain early Thursday morning.

The United Airlines flight departed from Newark Liberty International Airport at 4:35 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon, but a look at an online flight tracker reveals that the plane was diverted from its original course and landed in Madrid at 5:39 a.m. local time, the next day.

The plane then departed for Israel about two hours later, finally arriving at Ben Gurion Airport at 9:55 a.m.

An unnamed passenger reportedly began screaming and cursing, saying that he needed to be able to smoke while aboard the aircraft and eventually threatened to crash the plane, eyewitnesses told Hebrew-language media.

After it was clear that the passenger could not be calmed down, the pilot made the decision to land the plane in Spain.

Media reports did not indicate whether the man was arrested by authorities upon landing in Madrid. The man did disembark from the aircraft and the plane continued on its way to Israel without him.

“There was a passenger who appeared to be haredi [ultra-Orthodox] who went crazy and was acting quite scary,” Yosef, who identified himself as a passenger on the flight, wrote on Twitter.

“The individual sitting next to me was really angry about the situation and started cursing all haredi [Jews], using unpleasant words….but I had seen what was happening, and so did a doctor who was also on the flight. We explained to him that the man’s behavior had nothing to do with religion, and that he had severe mental issues.”

A number of flights to Israel in recent months have been disrupted by unruly passengers.

In late April, an Israeli man on the same United flight from Newark to Tel Aviv engaged in a screaming match with the flight crew.

According to reports, he had sat down in a seat reserved for flight attendants while waiting to use the lavatory. When asked to move from the seat, he allegedly refused and had an intense verbal argument with employees.

Due to the argument, for which United blamed the “disruptive passenger,” the plane turned back towards the U.S. some three hours into the flight.

All passengers aboard the plane were stranded in Newark until the next flight out, a day later.