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U.S.-bound plane returns to Tokyo after man bites flight attendant

TOKYO — A U.S.-bound passenger jet returned to a Tokyo airport after a drunk passenger bit a flight attendant, the airline said Thursday.

“While flying over the Pacific Ocean, a passenger who was heavily intoxicated bit the arm of a female cabin attendant prompting the plane to return to Tokyo Haneda airport,” a spokesperson for All Nippon Airways told NBC News Thursday, without naming the suspect.

Flight ANA 118 took off at 9:24 p.m. Tuesday (7:24 a.m. ET) and was due to land in Seattle 10 hours later, according to flight tracking company FlightAware. But it returned to Tokyo Haneda Airport three hours later at 12:26 a.m. (10:26 a.m. ET Tuesday), the data showed.

The suspect was handed over to police and the female flight attendant sustained minor injuries, ANA said.

The suspect is a 55-year-old American citizen and was arrested on assault charges, the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun reported, citing unnamed police officials. NBC News has not confirmed the suspect’s identity nor the charge.

It is not the first in-flight bite. In July 2022, a woman hit, bit and spit at flight crews on an American Airlines flight from Dallas to Charlotte, N.C., according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

The same month, another woman attempted to hug and kiss another passenger and bit a passenger several times on a Delta Air Lines flight from Las Vegas to Atlanta, the FAA said.

They were fined $81,950 and $77,272 respectively, which are the largest-ever fines issued by the FAA in the U.S.

In May 2017, a man was arrested as authorities said he tried to bite a flight attendant before jumping out of the plane at a North Carolina airport.

Earlier this month, a Japan Airlines plane collided with a coast guard aircraft at Haneda Airport, also known as Tokyo International Airport. While all 379 passengers and crew members were safely evacuated, five people were killed on the coast guard jet.

On Tuesday, a Korean Air plane clipped a Cathay Pacific airliner at the New Chitose Aiport in the northern Japanese region of Hokkaido, with no injuries reported.

Arata Yamamoto reported from Tokyo, Larissa Gao reported from Hong Kong.

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