Passengers on United Airlines Flight Finally Arrive in Chicago, 30 Hours Later

The flight had been diverted because of an unruly passenger.

ByABC News
June 22, 2015, 7:43 AM

— -- Passengers aboard a United Airlines flight from Rome to Chicago finally reached their destination late Sunday after enduring a 30-hour delay because of an unruly passenger.

United Flight 971 arrived at O’Hare International Airport more than a day behind schedule.

The plane had been diverted to Belfast International Airport on Saturday because of an unruly passenger, said United Airlines official Karen May.

The passenger, a 42-year-old dual American and Italian national, is set to appear in court today. He was to be charged with disruptive behavior on board an aircraft and common assault, according to the Belfast International Airport Constabulary.

Passengers said they expected the flight to resume soon after the unruly passenger was removed from the flight.

“At first, everybody just kept looking back, so you're, like, on an airplane and that's kind of unnerving when you don't know what's going on with the guy, like, kicking people,” a passenger told reporters. “Once you figured out that it was just a guy who wasn't all there, it wasn't as bad.”

May said the flight was supposed to depart from Belfast Saturday, but the crew members had reached their maximum duty time. The airline eventually canceled the flight.

The 269 remaining passengers slept in the airport because there were no available hotels rooms nearby, said May. They departed Belfast Sunday and arrived in Chicago.

During their stay at the airport, the passengers were given food and blankets.

“It was hard ground, it was cold, and it just sucked,” a passenger said.

May said United Airlines would refund the passengers and give them the option of a travel certificate or MileagePlus miles.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.