A drunk passenger on a British Airways plane travelling from London to South Africa had to be forcibly restrained by cabin crew, a court has heard.
Emma Langford, 47, admitted being drunk on board flight BA043 that left Heathrow Airport for Cape Town on December 6 last year.
A court heard that Langford was verbally abusive towards staff, who claimed she was behaving “erratically” and smelt of alcohol.
It was also alleged that she attacked three members of the flight’s cabin crew before being restrained in her seat.
Appearing at Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday, Langford, of Old Basing, Hampshire, admitted a charge of being drunk on an aircraft and one of behaving in an abusive manner towards flight staff.
She pleaded not guilty to three charges of assault by beating against Matthew Richardson, Monique Foulger and Poppy Haynes – all British Airways employees.
Langford also admitted a charge of causing criminal damage, on the basis that she acted recklessly when she smashed crockery and glasses to the floor during the flight.
Prosecutors claim her behaviour in breaking British Airways property was deliberate.
Mr Richardson, a customer services manager whose statement was read to the court by prosecutor Zara Khan, claimed that he and “several colleagues” were assaulted by a passenger who later had to be “forcibly restrained” on the flight.
According to his account, Langford had approached flight staff in the plane’s galley area around 30 minutes after take-off, demanding a drink.
Mr Richardson said Langford, who was “raising her voice” and displaying “agitated body language”, complained that she had been on the flight “for ages” and was thirsty and wanted a drink.
“During this conversation I could smell alcohol on Emma,” Mr Richardson said.
Langford denied she had been drinking when asked, was given a bottle of water, and was repeatedly asked to calm down and return to her seat, the court heard.
Mr Richardson added: “She approached me with a puffed-up chest and was behaving erratically again, she was verbally abusive.”
The court heard that staff grew “increasingly concerned” over Langford’s behaviour, which included chasing away a member of cabin crew and shouting abuse, before she allegedly launched an attack on Mr Richardson.
He claimed she “hit me several times”, including being punched around three times in his left collar bone.
During the flight, Mr Richardson’s colleague, Ms Haynes, was also allegedly assaulted, the court heard.
At one point Langford tipped up a drawer of plates and tray of glasses, causing them to break, Mr Richardson said.
Eventually, she was served with a violation notice by staff on the plane, the court heard.
“She then ripped it up and responded saying ‘Blah, blah, blah’,” Mr Richardson said.
His statement added that Langford was restrained in her seat for the rest of the journey.
Langford, who appeared in court wearing a black top, jeans and leopard-print shoes, was bailed ahead of a two-day trial and Newton hearing at the same court, starting on August 12.