Considered as one of the busiest travel weekends in the US, Thanksgiving is certainly a time when both airlines and passengers hope for no disruptions as everyone wants to make it home in time for the holidays and settle in on an anticipated feast. Unfortunately for the passengers of a Southwest Airlines flight on Saturday, their Columbus-bound flight was diverted to Little Rock instead.

Thanksgiving got quite physical

On November 26th, the regularly scheduled Southwest Airlines flight WN 192 had routinely departed out of William P Hobby Airport in Houston and was bound for John Glenn Columbus International Airport in Columbus. The flight was operated by the low-cost carrier’s Boeing 737 MAX 8, registered N8792Q, which had only just been delivered to Southwest Airlines earlier this week on November 22nd.

WN 192 took off at approximately 14:38, and everything was routine until the flight was diverted and made an emergency landing at Little Rock Clinton National Airport at around 15:35. While there were no issues with the brand-new Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft, the reason for the diversion came from an unruly passenger, whereby eyewitness passengers said were seated toward the back of the aircraft. Southwest Airlines confirmed the incident by saying:

“Flight 192 traveling from Houston to Columbus followed protocol and safely diverted to Little Rock after our Crew observed unruly behavior from a passenger mid-flight. Local authorities in Little Rock met the flight upon landing and removed the customer from the flight.”

A case for the federal authorities

The unruly passenger had allegedly physically assaulted another passenger during the flight and was arrested and removed from the aircraft by local authorities in Little Rock. Another passenger, supposedly the victim who was attacked by the suspect, had to be transported from the narrowbody aircraft to a nearby hospital, where the victim was admitted for observation and treatment.

It is currently unclear what provoked the attack, its nature, and what injuries the victim sustained. However, the suspect is expected to be served with federal charges as the Federal Bureau of Investigation is currently investigating the alleged assault. And although it was quite a disruptive Saturday for those who remained onboard WN 192, passengers and crew alike, the flight was able to carry on to Columbus without further incident after departing from Little Rock at approximately 18:02.

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Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8

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Increasing acts of violence

Saturday’s assault onboard the Southwest Airlines flight was just the latest in the growing number of unruly passenger cases, of which the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had already received more than 2,180 reports so far this year, prompting more than 750 investigations. But perhaps what is more alarming is that Saturday’s assault also highlights a disturbing trend concerning the increasing acts of violence in these cases, signaling terror not just for passengers but for flight attendants too.

Within November alone, Singapore Airlines encountered an unruly passenger threatening to push a flight attendant while standing in the aisle, and JetBlue faced a drunk passenger who used his straight-edge razor against a woman’s throat and held her hostage for a while. United Airlines also met with an unfortunate flight disturbance that saw one flight attendant and multiple passengers hospitalized for injuries caused by one poorly-behaved passenger. And these are just the primarily reported incidents, as many flight attendants continue to be hit and grabbed so hard till bruised but go unreported.

Even though becoming disruptive on a flight can now earn an unruly passenger federal prosecution, it seems to have done little to deter such passengers from committing their disruptive acts and causing headaches to both airline crews and passengers. With the Christmas season fast approaching, there is an increased worry about how turbulent the skies can get as bad behavior lurks in every flight.

  • Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-700 San Francisco

    Southwest Airlines

    IATA/ICAO Code:

    Airline Type:
    Low-Cost Carrier

    Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, Dallas Love Field, Denver International Airport, Harry Reid International Airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Houston Hobby Airport, Los Angeles International Airport, Midway International Airport, Oakland International Airport, Orlando International Airport, Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport

    Year Founded:

    Robert Jordan

    United States

  • 787-8 Dreamliner


    Stock Code:

    Date Founded:

    Dave Calhoun

    Headquarters Location:
    Chicago, USA

    Key Product Lines:
    Boeing 737, Boeing 747, Boeing 757, Boeing 767, Boeing 777, Boeing 787

    Business Type:


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