Unruly passenger disrupts Qantas Perth-London marathon flight

by Steve Creedy and Geoffrey Thomas
September 09, 2018
Qantas 787. Credit Richard Kreider

What was already a marathon flight was made even longer Saturday after a disruptive male passenger forced a Qantas Perth-London nonstop flight to turnaround.

Two Qantas Boeing 787s winged their way to London Sunday after Saturday’s flight was delayed because crew no longer has sufficient available duty hours.

The captain made the decision to turnaround Flight QF-9 about two hours into the flight and before the meal service.

The passenger, a 32-year old male in economy class, allegedly become violent and disruptive and had to be restrained.

Witnesses said he became highly aggressive as passengers tried to control him and cabin crew attempted to calm him down.

The West Australian quoted one passenger as saying the man appeared “incredibly agitated” and his behavior was “hyper-aggressive, like a cornered animal”.

The witness praised Qantas staff for controlling the passenger and keeping everyone on board calm during the ordeal.

He said the man had walked to or toward the bathroom in the middle of the cabin and went to sit back down again.

“Whatever happened next he was suddenly standing up and shouting and pointing in an extremely aggressive manner,” he said.

“I wasn’t sure what he was saying. Passengers leaped in to control him, Qantas staff tried to calm him. He was eventually marched down the back of the plane.

“He was by this time highly, highly wound up.”

The unruly passenger was taken off the plane by Australian Federal Police and Qantas later placed a “no-fly ban ” on him preventing him from traveling on Qantas Group flights until the investigation into the matter is completed. he could also face a hefty bill if the airline decides to move to to recover the costs of the disruption.

“This type of disruption inconveniences our customers, but we take a zero-tolerance approach to disruptive behavior on board,’ a Qantas spokeswoman said.

“The safety of our crew and customers is our number one priority.

“We provided customers with overnight accommodation and will have them on their way as soon as possible. We apologize for the inconvenience and thank our customers for their patience.”

The delayed plane left at 12:30pm Sunday.

The ultra-long-haul turn-back came after Qantas launched its first international Dreamliner flights from Queensland earlier this month with a daily service from Brisbane to Los Angeles and onwards to New York.

Read Qantas-London nonstop setting load and profitability records.

Four of the national carrier’s new Boeing 787-9s will be based in Brisbane, as the state-of-the-art aircraft gradually replace the 747 on key routes.

Dreamliner services from Brisbane to Hong Kong will start in December, with other destinations to follow.  Seattle, Chicago, San Francisco and Vancouver are the favorites.

The airline is predicting the 787 base will drive tourism and jobs in the Australian state,

“We’ll have 120 cabin crew and pilots based in Brisbane to operate the Dreamliner flights and a further 350 indirect jobs are expected to be created as a result,” Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said.

“The Dreamliner also opens up the potential to drive tourism to Queensland over the long term given the increased range of the 787.

“There are a number of new destinations we’re considering for new direct services from Brisbane, including Seattle, Chicago and San Francisco in the US, as well as Vancouver and cities in Asia.”

The airline also started direct 787-9 flights between Melbourne and San Francisco recently. The national carrier will operate four return flights per week on the route.