A passenger stripped naked and locked himself in a bathroom on an Alaska Airlines flight Wednesday, forcing the plane to return to Anchorage shortly after takeoff.
Airport Police and Fire Sgt. Darcey Perry confirmed the incident to KTVA TV of Anchorage, saying officers were dispatched to meet Alaska Flight 146 when it returned to the airport there at about 3 a.m. local time.
“There was a subject on the aircraft that had barricaded or locked himself in the bathroom, the lavatory,” Perry said to KTVA. “Flight attendants did find that the subject was naked.”
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"The police came on and took him out the back door," Kate Danyluk, an Anchorage teacher aboard Flight 146, said to The Associated Press.
She told the news agency she initially suspected something was amiss when flight attendants kept going back and forth in the aisles and had put on rubber gloves.
Danyluk said she never saw the man after he reportedly took his clothes off, telling AP that several other men stood nearby to block the view. She said he heard from others on the planes that "he had taken off his clothes and he just wasn't in his right mind."
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The incident forced a diversion and put Flight 146 passengers hours behind schedule for their leg to Seattle.
"I'd rather go back to Anchorage than have something happen," Danyluk added to AP. "Safety first."
Alaska Airlines spokesman Tim Thompson told AP via email Flight 146 “returned to Anchorage due to a passenger not following flight attendant's instructions.”
“While no emergency was declared, the decision was made to return to Anchorage," he added.
The flight originally departed at 1:21 a.m. local time, but circled back to Anchorage less than an hour later, according to a flight recap from flight-tracking service FlightAware. It landed at 2:44 a.m. local time and arrived to the gate at 3:14 a.m. local time, FlightAware’s data showed.
Flight 146 passengers were asked to deplane, but eventually departed for Seattle on an aircraft that left Anchorage at 6:37 a.m. local time. They arrived to Seattle around 11 a.m. local time, about five hours later than originally scheduled.
FBI and airport police met the plane upon landing.
Staci Feger-Pellessier, a spokeswoman for the Anchorage FBI office, said told AP via e-mail Thursday that the man was taken to a local hospital for a psychiatric evaluation.
"No final determination has been made yet whether or not charges will be brought," Chloe Martin, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney's office in Alaska, added to the agency.
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