Man on Icelandair Flight Is Said to Have Been Restrained by Fellow Passengers

It landed online Friday: a picture of a middle-aged man crudely bound and taped to his airline seat, apparently against his will. The brief explanation underneath, posted on the blogging service Tumblr, went like this:

Passanger drank all of his duty free liquor on the flight from Iceland to JFK yesterday. When he became unruly, (i.e. trying to choke the woman next to him and screaming the plane was going to crash), fellow passengers subdued him and tie him up for the rest of the flight. He was escorted off the flight by police when it landed.

Andy Ellwood, the man who posted the picture and the description, said in an interview Friday that it was taken by a friend of his on the flight. He declined to identify his friend, and said that the person did not want to speak about it publicly. But Mr. Ellwood said his friend said that, a few hours into the flight, the man ” became belligerent and started to hurt other passengers.”

It remains something of a mystery what happened to the bound man.

A spokesman for Icelandair, Michael Raucheisen, confirmed there was an incident on a flight between Reykjavik and New York on Thursday. It involved, he said in an e-mail, “a disruptive male passenger who was hitting, screaming and spitting at other passengers while yelling profanities.” He continued:

His behavior was considered to be unruly and threatening. To ensure the safety of those on board, he was restrained by passengers and crew and was monitored for his own safety for the duration of the flight. Upon arrival at JFK the flight was met by authorities who arrested the male.

Ron Marsico, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, said that the man had not been charged by federal or local authorities. Mr. Marsico said that the man was 46, had an Icelandic passport and “was taken into custody and transported to a hospital because he was deemed to be intoxicated.”

It was not immediately clear why he escaped the clutches of law enforcement. A Google search for “airline passenger arrested” yields local news stories on others held in recent months for refusing to turn off cellphones, for wearing a bulletproof vest and painting fingernails, among other infractions. The Federal Bureau of Investigation, which often detains unruly passengers, did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment on Friday evening.

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