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Passenger still in custody in New Zealand

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 3/01/2017

© Rex Images Passengers on a United Airlines flight from Sydney to San Francisco have revealed the extent of bad behaviour of a man that led to the flight being diverted to New Zealand.

Flight UA870 was diverted to Auckland Airport on New Year's Day.

A 42-year-old man was arrested on arrival and referred to immigration officials, police said.

Immigration New Zealand said an American national was refused entry to New Zealand as he did not meet entry and border requirements.

He is in police custody while arrangements are made for him to board a flight to the United States.

The remaining 252 passengers were put up in hotels overnight and got a flight the next day.

Passengers have told media the man was angry at having to sit in a seat between two people of Indian or Pakistani descent who talked over him.

He was abusive to crew for a prolonged period, his language was profane and at one point he spent 20 minutes in the bathroom.

Passenger Neil Kay posted on Facebook that the passenger was a "misogynistic, homophobic bigot" who verbally harassed "kind passengers" and physically threatened the wonderful United Airlines' flight crew.

He said the flight was re-routed to Auckland to "have the racist arrested".

Another passenger told the NZ Herald airline staff told him and four other men on the flight about hold-down tactics in case the troublesome passenger got physical.

Another passenger reportedly overheard the pilot being denied permission to land in Fiji or American Samoa which meant the flight back-tracked two and a half hours to Auckland.

The passengers enjoyed their unscheduled stop in New Zealand. Mr Kay posted a picture of some of them at a bar at a hotel.

The airline has said the unscheduled stop cost about $150,000.

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