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The Guardian - AU
The Guardian - AU
Elias Visontay Transport and urban affairs reporter

Alleged naked run on Virgin flight from Perth to Melbourne leads to man being arrested

Virgin planes
A Virgin Australia flight from Perth to Melbourne was forced to turn around after a male passenger allegedly ran naked through the cabin. Photograph: Rick Rycroft/AP

A Virgin Australia flight from Perth to Melbourne was forced to turn around and land shortly after taking off after a male passenger allegedly ran naked through the cabin and knocked a crew member to the floor.

Australian federal police officers met VA696 when it returned to Perth airport on Monday evening and arrested the man after the plane was turned around an hour into the flight to Melbourne.

A Virgin spokesperson said on Tuesday that the flight – which normally takes about three and a half hours – returned due to a “disruptive passenger” who was “offloaded” by police.

“The safety of our guests and crew is our top priority and we sincerely apologise to guests impacted,” the spokesperson said.

The federal police said it had been alerted to the incident by airport staff and “officers arrested a man after he allegedly ran naked through the aircraft mid-flight and knocked a crew member to the floor”.

Sterling, a passenger on the plane who gave only his first name, said that one hour into the flight “all of a sudden I hear this running up the aisle and the guy’s got no clothes on and he’s just charging towards the front of the plane”.

The 23-year-old mining engineer had been flying to Melbourne for his university graduation on Tuesday morning. He told Guardian Australia he was initially alarmed at the sight of someone charging towards the cockpit.

Sterling said that after the man allegedly knocked over the flight attendant, there was “a lot of yelling and screaming” near the cockpit.

“Initially you think, God forbid, it could be an attack. It’s really distressing being on a plane in that situation.”

Sterling continued: “One good Samaritan, this big guy in business class, jumped up straight away to intervene and then these two other guys later got up and tackled him to the ground.”

The man was pinned down before being handcuffed and walked to the back of the plane, he added.

Another passenger who had been onboard the flight said the man allegedly “suddenly went bananas running up and down the aisle and bashing on the cockpit door”.

“Two air marshals had to restrain and handcuff the individual until the [flight] landed,” the passenger told Melbourne’s 3AW radio.

The allegedly disruptive passenger was taken to a local hospital for assessment, where he remained on Tuesday. He was expected to be summoned to appear before Perth magistrates court in June with charges yet to be finalised.

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