Armed police met a British Airways flight from Miami to London Heathrow after a passenger allegedly threatened a member of cabin crew and used “racist abuse”.
Police say a 46-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of a racially aggravated public order offense.
It is understood that the musician Ed Sheeran was on board BA206, though he was not near the incident.
The Airbus A380 SuperJumbo took off from the Florida city at 5.23pm local time on Monday evening and was flying normally to Heathrow.
About two hours into the flight, a male passenger is reported to have started abusing a member of cabin crew and using racist language.
Another passenger on board, who was near the incident on the lower deck of the double-deck aircraft, said that the individual appeared to have been drinking heavily.
The passenger told The Independent: “There was serious racist abuse to an air steward, as well as threatening behavior. Many people on board were frightened and distressed.
“We’ve traveled all around the world but this was quite shocking. It originally kicked off during the dinner service.
“There were two fairly fit young lads who tried to control him.”
The individual was subdued, reportedly with the help of a former police officer who was traveling as a passenger.
He was initially held in the galley, where he continued to shout abuse, and later moved to a jump seat normally used by cabin crew.
“They put him in the jump seat and kept talking to him, trying to calm him down, which did actually work.”
The captain did not divert the flight. The aircraft continued to Heathrow, where it landed nearly an hour early at 5.50am and was met by armed police.
A spokesperson for British Airways said: “Disruptive behavior will never be tolerated onboard our aircraft and we will always take the appropriate action.”
A Metropolitan Police spokesperson said: “At 01:59hrs on Tuesday 24 October officers at Heathrow airport received a report that a passenger on a flight arriving from Miami had made racist comments towards other passengers and crew members.
“Officers met the aircraft on arrival and a 46-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of a racially aggravated public order offense. He remains in custody.”