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Passenger disruption diverts Southwest flight to Arkansas

A passenger disruption on a Southwest Airlines flight caused it to be diverted to Little Rock, Arkansas, on Saturday during one of the busiest travel weekends of the year.

One person was arrested by FBI agents, the bureau’s Connor Hagan said. Potential charges would be the responsibility of the US Attorney in Arkansas.

“The FBI is the primary federal agency authorized to investigate potential assaults on aircraft,” Hagan said by email. “We will work closely with prosecutors from the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Arkansas to fully investigate this incident and possibly pursue federal charges.”

The exact nature of the disruption aboard the flight to Columbus, Ohio from Houston has not been fully disclosed. But in an interview, Hagan noted that any physical confrontation or assault on board a US passenger plane falls under the jurisdiction of the FBI once the plane leaves its gate.

No injuries were reported.

The Federal Aviation Administration said the disruption to Flight 192 prompted the crew of the Boeing 737 to declare an emergency and divert the plane to Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport in Little Rock around 3 p.m.

“The aircraft was met by the Transportation Security Administration and local law enforcement,” the agency said in a statement.

The disruption came amid one of the busiest travel weekends of the year, when many Americans attended Thanksgiving gatherings after the pandemic lockdown ended.

The AAA has projected the volume of ground, air and water travel to return to near pre-pandemic levels this week, with more than 53.4 million people expected to leave their cities and original villages for Thanksgiving.

On Monday, authorities said a Utah man held a straight razor to another passenger’s throat on a New York City-Salt Lake City flight. He was charged with assault with a dangerous weapon.

TJ Swigart and Michelle Acevedo contributed.

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