A flight attendant was forced to hit a wine bottle over a man’s head after he lunged for an exit door and tried to fight with other passengers, a court has been told.
Joseph Hudek, of Tampa, Florida, wore a beige jail uniform and sported a bruise below his right eye as he appeared at a US district court following the fracas on a Delta Air Lines flight from Seattle to Beijing.
The 23-year-old was arrested after the disturbance, which forced the plane to return to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
He did not speak during the hearing and his lawyer, Robert Flennaugh, refused to comment.
Hudek was charged with interfering with a flight crew, which carries a possible sentence of up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 (£195,000) fine, and is expected to remain in custody until a detention hearing on 13 July.
The court heard a flight attendant and a passenger were taken to hospital with severe facial injuries following the incident.
FBI special agent Caryn Highley said Hudek was sitting in the first row of the first-class section of the plane.
He asked a flight attendant for a beer before the plane took off and was served one but did not show any signs of being drunk and ordered no other alcoholic drinks, the court heard.
But about an hour into the flight, as the plane was over the Pacific Ocean northwest of Vancouver Island, Hudek went into a toilet, came out quickly, asked the attendant a question and then went back in, the agent said.
Ms Highley said that when he came out again about two minutes later, Hudek suddenly lunged for the exit door, grabbed the handle and tried to open it.
He was grabbed by two attendants but pushed them away, the court heard.
Hudek allegedly punched one flight attendant twice in the face and struck at least one passenger in the head with a wine bottle.
Another flight attendant grabbed two wine bottles and hit him over the head with each, breaking at least one of them, the court was told.
One flight attendant said in a statement: “Hudek did not seem impacted by the breaking of a full litre red wine bottle over his head, and instead shouted, ‘do you know who I am?’ or something to that extent.”
A passenger got Hudek in a headlock but he managed to free himself, Ms Highley said, before several passengers held him long enough to place zip-tie restraints on him.
Passenger Dustin Jones said he saw a man being rolled into the terminal in a wheelchair after the plane landed.
Mr Jones said: “He started yelling for help. And so he turned the wheelchair over in the middle of the airport, screaming for people to help him, just being belligerent.”