A Sunwing flight en route to Cuba was forced to turn around and return to Toronto's Pearson Airport Wednesday evening after two disruptive passengers caused a major disturbance.
Sunwing confirmed that the flight was en route to Varadero, Cuba, when "two unruly female passengers" consumed a significant amount of duty-free alcohol in the airplane lavatory and lit a cigarette, triggering the smoke detector.
"These passengers proceeded to get into a physical altercation with each other and made a threat against the aircraft, which was considered non-credible given their condition," said Janine Chapman, vice president of marketing for the airline, in a statement.
The pilot of the 737 aircraft, who described the two female passengers as being disruptive "in a serious manner," reported to NORAD (North American Aerospace Defence Command) while the plane was in U.S. airspace that the aircraft was "under threat."
CF-18 fighters scrambled
Officials with NORAD's Canadian sector in Winnipeg told CBC News that they scrambled two Canadian Forces CF-18 fighters from CFB Bagotville in Quebec to intercept Sunwing Flight 656 and escort it back to Pearson.
"Our flight crew followed the appropriate procedures and the aircraft was diverted back to Toronto where it has now landed," said Chapman.
Police officers were called to the airport around between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. and the two passengers were arrested when the plane landed, said George Tudos with Peel Regional Police.
"At 7:15 p.m. we received a call that there was a Sunwing flight that was being diverted back to Pearson due to two female parties on board that were quite disruptive," Tudos told CBC News.
"It was escorted by military planes back to Pearson, where it was met by our airport officers. We are continuing the investigation to find out what happened and are speaking to witnesses who were on the flight. We take all situations seriously and we are going to make sure that plane is safe before it leaves the gate."
The flight was preparing to take off again late Wednesday night with a new flight crew. Customers were provided with meal vouchers and the airline apologized for the incident.
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