A United Airlines flight bound for Beijing, China returned to Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia over concerns of a child custody investigation.
The flight was heading for China on Thursday afternoon, but law enforcement authorities asked that it return about five hours after takeoff. The FBI says it was alerted a child onboard was allegedly being taken out of the country illegally by his mother.
The child’s grandmother was also onboard the flight. The grandmother was not arrested.
According to the FBI, the woman was taken into custody when the flight touched down. The father took custody of the child, reports USA Today. The father had apparently notified the FBI that the mother was trying to take their child to China without his permission.
The mother, who is facing kidnapping charges, is scheduled to appear in a Virginia federal court around 2 p.m. Friday, according to CBS.
Passenger Lane Bailey said the pilot came over the loudspeakers saying the flight was being redirected due to “mechanical problems.”
“The pilot came on board and said we were experiencing mechanical problems,” Bailey said. “After they left, the pilot came back on and said that he deliberately mislead us, he thought that, in his judgment that it was the best thing to do, given the circumstances of potential abduction that that’s the reason we had diverted.” The flight was cleared to take off again Thursday evening from Dulles airport.
In a statement today, United told MailOnline: ‘We returned to Washington Dulles at the request of law enforcement.
‘UA flight 897 from Dulles to Beijing originally departed on time at 12.20pm. After it returned to Dulles, we assigned a new crew due to crew legality limits, and then re-departed for Beijing at 7:47 pm ET.’
Child Custody Investigation Diverts Beijing Bound Flight