A United Airlines passenger accused of becoming violently disruptive on a flight from Honolulu to Japan has been charged with interference with the performance of a flight crew.
United Airlines Flight 903 was about an hour and a half into a nearly nine-hour flight to Tokyo’s Narita International Airport on Saturday when Hyongtae Pae, 72, refused to follow flight attendants’ orders to stay seated, screamed at them in Korean and became violent, according to the criminal complaint and affidavit filed in federal court by the U.S. Attorney’s Office on Monday.
Pae told FBI officials he didn’t want to sit while flight attendants served a meal, preferring to do yoga and meditate.
He said he had not slept in 11 days.
Pae, who was seen pushing his wife several times, was invited to the aircraft’s aft galley to calm down and sat down in the middle of the galley, the complaint stated.
After Pae kept yelling and refused to return to his seat, other passengers – including five U.S. Marines on the flight – were asked to help put restraints on him and take him back to his seat.
Pae threatened to kill one of the people placing him in restraints, according to two unnamed Marines interviewed in the affidavit.
He also tried to head-butt and bite one of the Marines.
Both Pae and his wife told the FBI, who conducted the interview in Korean with an agency linguist, they knew they needed to follow the directions of the flight crew but didn’t know disobeying them was illegal.
A United Airlines spokeswoman confirmed the flight returned to Honolulu due to a disruptive passenger and was met by law enforcement but referred all other questions to local authorities.